Broadband News

Ofcom releases January 2019 coverage data update

The Ofcom Connected Nations report is key part of the work Ofcom does in terms of tracking the impact of broadband policies and key takeaways from the latest interim update is that the ultrafast broadband (over 300 Mbps) metric has hit 53%, superfast broadband (30 Mbps and faster) has hit 95% and that the broadband USO (i.e. those that cannot get decent broadband, 10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up sync speed) is down at 619,000 premises that will need help. The good news that we revealed recently was that the UK has hit 7% full fibre coverage.

The report is based on data supplied to Ofcom by providers in January 2019, but what we don't know is what date the providers have used for their dataset, some may have just handed over their December 2018, some the exact picture that week and some may have included premises they expected to be covered in the next few weeks - a safe bet given it has taken until May to release the analysis.

Of course thinkbroadband has its own coverage stats and as people are likely to make comparisons we are making it easier by publishing comparison tables. One of the key problems in comparing the two datasets is that Ofcom usually only publishes to the integer precision and differences in dates complicate things, other factors such as serviced apartments i.e. student halls and apartment hotels also introduce differences since these are usually missing in our data and full fibre business services. Another variable we do not know how Ofcom handle is new build premises since in January 2019 we could not take new premises built in December and November 2018 until ONS issued its update in early March 2019.

Comparison Ofcom Connected Nations Report and thinkbroadband coverage data - UK
  Ofcom Jan 2019 thinkbroadband 31st January thinkbroadband 2nd May
Access to download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher 98% 98.1% 98.3%
Access to download speeds of 30 Mbps or higher (superfast) 95% 95.5% 95.7%
Access to download speeds of 300 Mbps or higher (ultrafast) * 53% 56.3% (100 Mbps+) 57.1% (100 Mbps+)
Access to full fibre services ** 7% 5.8% 7.2%
Unable to access a download speed of 10Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1Mbit/s (Universal Service Obligation minimum) ***

2%

619,000

3.0%

893,311

2.8%

853,333

* - Ofcom use a faster definition of ultrafast whereas we use a figure of 100 Mbps and faster. The 300 Mbps definition is actually more complex to count, since there are cable areas where only 200 Mbps is available even though technology can go faster and the issue of G.fast is even more complex since some in touching distance of the pod will get connection speeds over 300 Mbps, but the majority won't.

** - Ofcom requires premises to be able to be connected within 14 days to qualify as full fibre but as we believe the vast majority of full fibre services take more than 14 days from order to actually being live we do not use this very arbitrary definition. Arbitrary because if ducting exists it is possible for metro Ethernet firms e.g. CityFibre to connect premises in that time scale, we prefer to work to the definition that the fibre manifold (some call it a fibre pot) has been installed and consumer grade FTTP services are available for order.

*** - Remember this is sync/connection speed. thinkbroadband figures explicitly exclude ADSL2+, though some short lines e.g. 15 Mbps or higher sync could use Annex M or may actually get an upload connection speed marginally over 1 Mbps. Given that Ofcom is talking of technology for the USO being likely to deliver superfast and ultrafast speeds we believe it is right to say say ADSL2+ can never be USO compliant.

thinkbroadband has a substantionally higher figure for those needing USO help, if we look at the number who under 15 Mbps (ignoring upload) the figure is 768,378 (798,718 end of Jan 2019) premises and ignoring upload again our 10 Mbps percentage translates to 524,174 (552,540 at end of Jan 2019). So the likely reason for the difference seems to be how the upload speeds are handled i.e. is a 1010 Kbps upload connection speed USO compliant, mathematically yes but morally we would say no.

Comparison Ofcom Connected Nations Report and thinkbroadband coverage data - England
  Ofcom Jan 2019 thinkbroadband 31st January thinkbroadband 2nd May
Access to download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher 99% 98.6% 98.7%
Access to download speeds of 30 Mbps or higher (superfast) 95% 96.0% 96.2%
Access to download speeds of 300 Mbps or higher (ultrafast) * 56% 59.0% (100 Mbps+) 59.7% (100 Mbps+)
Access to full fibre services ** 7% 5.7% 7.1%
Unable to access a download speed of 10Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1Mbit/s (Universal Service Obligation minimum) ***

2%

2.6%

651,565

2.5%

616,839

Comparison Ofcom Connected Nations Report and thinkbroadband coverage data - Northern Ireland
  Ofcom Jan 2019 thinkbroadband 31st January thinkbroadband 2nd May
Access to download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher 95% 92.7% 92.9%
Access to download speeds of 30 Mbps or higher (superfast) 90% 88.3% 88.6%
Access to download speeds of 300 Mbps or higher (ultrafast) * 45% 43.2% (100 Mbps+) 44.8% (100 Mbps+)
Access to full fibre services ** 16% 14.3% 20.9%
Unable to access a download speed of 10Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1Mbit/s (Universal Service Obligation minimum) ***

5%

7.3%

58,707

7.1%

58,543

Comparison Ofcom Connected Nations Report and thinkbroadband coverage data - Scotland
  Ofcom Jan 2019 thinkbroadband 31st January thinkbroadband 2nd May
Access to download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher 97% 96.4% 96.4%
Access to download speeds of 30 Mbps or higher (superfast) 93% 93.4% 93.5%
Access to download speeds of 300 Mbps or higher (ultrafast) * 45% 46.3% (100 Mbps+) 46.7% (100 Mbps+)
Access to full fibre services ** 5% 3.0% 4.1%
Unable to access a download speed of 10Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1Mbit/s (Universal Service Obligation minimum) ***

5%

4.9%

133,041

4.8%

129,604

Comparison Ofcom Connected Nations Report and thinkbroadband coverage data - Wales
  Ofcom Jan 2019 thinkbroadband 31st January thinkbroadband 2nd May
Access to download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher 97% 97.2% 97.4%
Access to download speeds of 30 Mbps or higher (superfast) 93% 94.6% 94.7%
Access to download speeds of 300 Mbps or higher (ultrafast) * 30% 36.2% (100 Mbps+) 37.0% (100 Mbps+)
Access to full fibre services ** 7% 6.6% 7.7%
Unable to access a download speed of 10Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1Mbit/s (Universal Service Obligation minimum) ***

3%

3.7%

52,087

3.5%

50,903

The full fibre figure differences particularly in Scotland where we are still behind Ofcom stand out and that includes adding various Fibre First exchanges from Openreach in Edinburgh, we suspect that this is down to things like the interpretation of what counts as FTTP when looking especially at the metro ethernet market. Another factor may be that some of the Virgin Media expansion in Scotland we have recorded in our system is marked down as standard fibre/coax rather than the RFOG/FTTP version but since there is no product differentiation determining what people have available is very difficult.

The trend as we have reported previously in our monthly summaries that superfast roll-outs are slowing down is confirmed by the Ofcom report, the reasons for this is that as the BDUK projects switch to a more FTTP diet the numbers delivered is much smaller and even for areas where a VDSL2 cabinet still appears many BDUK ones have very small footprints of 25 to 50 premises.

The target of 97% superfast coverage is more of a soft ambition or hope, but based on the pace we are seeing this may not be reached until some point between June and September 2020. If the Scottish and Welsh BDUK contracts get delivering in volume we may see an earlier date, but time is running out particularly for the Scottish R100 where no contracts have been awarded, in Wales we think we may be spotting some FTTP delivered already. 

This is great news for the UK and we’re proud to be leading the build of faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband networks across the country.

We want to be the national full fibre provider and we’re convinced our technology can be a huge catalyst for productivity and prosperity post-Brexit.

We’re investing heavily in our network and people; in communities all over the UK, and we’re on track to hit our target of reaching three million premises by the end of 2020. But we want to go much further, and we will do if the conditions are right to invest.

Kim Mears, MD Strategic Infrastructure Development Openreach

The statement from Kim Mears and the three million target looks a slam dunk if the current pace does continue since based on what has been found in the last 3 months a date of 30th July 2020 is possible. If you project using a wider six month past performance window the date does slip to April 2021 and this big gap illustrates the big change that has happened in 2019 in terms of the amount of full fibre that Openreach is deploying.

The newest exchanges where we are spotting Fibre First FTTP are Cardiff (SWCFATE), Eccles (MRECC) and Earsdon (CMEARD) and the total of Openreach FTTP premises passed we have in our records is 1,107,115 premises with exchanges such as Childwall (89.8% - full fibre availability), Swinton (86.7%). FortWilliam (76.6%), Sefton Park (76%) and Whitchurch (73%) leading the roll-out for highest proportion of FTTP coverage. Some of the Fibre First footprint will be in the Ofcom January 2019 figures but most of Fibre First specific FTTP has appeared as available to order in the months following January.

Comments

"So the likely reason for the difference seems to be how the upload speeds are handled i.e. is a 1010 Kbps upload connection speed USO compliant, mathematically yes but morally we would say no."

I'm not quite clear what measure you are using for this. I scan see the argument on 1010 just not what in practice you are using.

  • Croft12
  • 3 months ago

"we believe it is right to say ADSL2+ can never be USO compliant"

Believe that is clear enough. In short if only ADSL2+ available then no matter what download speed we count the premises as not USO compliant

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

Couple of questions for you Andrew.

If a BTW Exchange/Cab Check shows FFTPod available (330/30), with all the potential costs in might incur, does said exchange/cab count as covered by 300/100Meg+ (ultrafast) in the statistics?

Also, do all properties able to to get FTTPod on any exchange or cab qualify statistically (regardless of FTTPod speed), or does distance become a disqualifying factor in the stats?

Scenario:

150 houses on a cab with FTTPod:

20 too far will not get it
30 will, but lower than 330 sync speeds
100 will get 330 sync

All 150 in the 330 coverage stats?

  • camieabz
  • 3 months ago

FoD does not factor into the statistics

If FoD did it is so widely available the FTTP figures would be a lot higher.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

Cheers Andrew.

  • camieabz
  • 3 months ago

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