Broadband News

6 out of 10 UK premises now have an over 100 Mbps broadband option

The path to 100% Gigabit coverage is a long one but in the meantime some other small milestones are being passed. With 60.04% of UK premises now able to buy a 100 Mbps or faster service and with the combined might the G.fast, FTTP and Virgin Media RFOG roll-outs this figure is growing. 

Superfast broadband (30 Mbps and faster) broke the 60% barrier eight years ago in March 2012. 

The full breakdown is on our labs statistics website with two lists for the councils and constituencies across the UK and has been updated today with the latest figures.

The 100 Mbps definition includes G.fast services but the Gigabit target of full coverage by the end of 2025 obviously excludes this and if Virgin Media was to magically upgrade all its existing cable network to its 1.1 Gbps Gig1 service today then Gigabit coverage would be 57.8%. The roll-out of DOCSIS 3.1 across the whole Virgin Media network is expected to take a year or two and with the FTTP roll-outs once the roll-out is complete we should be in the 60% to 70% region in a couple of years.

Predicting the Gigabit coverage figures is difficult as you need to take into account the overlaps e.g. 4 out of 10 CityFibre FTTH premises (selling via Vodafone Gigafast) already have Virgin Media cable. The overlap between Virgin Media and Openreach FTTP is running at the same ratio but is a lot higher in the Fibre First areas.

The reason the DOCSIS 3.1 roll-out is so important is highlighted if we look at what date we estimate the UK would reach 50% actual full fibre coverage and based on the rate of increase in the last 12 months the date for 50% FTTP coverage is 21st February 2031 and 100% full fibre coverage in 2043. Of course if roll-outs accelerate as the fibre builders keep saying they are these dates will improve.

The big question is will the combined commercial roll-outs push Gigabit into the 80% and higher region by end of 2025, meaning that the £5 billion the current Government has promised for to deliver a Gigabit option to those missing out commercially. Allowing for the overlaps and we suspect the figure for Gigabit is going to be around 75% if we assume that nothing has been delivered using the Governments £5 billion fund. There are a number of factors that mean the figure might be higher or lower, higher if take-up of the faster service options increases sharply, lower if something like coronavirus was to reach pandemic levels and towns in the UK were to enter lock quarantine periods.

The worst thing that could happen in 2020 though is if a high profile full fibre broadband provider was to get its backhaul provisioning wrong and people upgrading from a partial fibre 30 Mbps service were to find that even though they have full fibre the peak time performance is not unlike their old service and if the network is congesting badly video buffering was actually worse. Mistakes like this when on a large scale will be remembered and will make the process of getting people to upgrade slower as millions will carry on with the broadband they have today.

Comments

I know it won't happen, and I know the reasons why, but I'd still like some priority to be given to those with no superfast options.

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

agreed. all suppliers should concentrate on upping the speeds for the current slowest not just take the easy option

  • threelegs
  • 8 months ago

@threelegs "all suppliers should concentrate on upping the speeds for the current slowest"
Easily said and clearly desirable but remember we are dealing here with commercial companies that need to make a profit not a loss making nationalised body that spends money as if it were water.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago

@MCM999, don't forget there is a lot of intervention money being spent too - it isn't all commercial builds. But there is still no priority or urgency for those with no superfast option. (the USO will take care of them...)

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

I'd interested to know if this is actual speed reached or estimated? I'm estimated to get up to 37mbps but in practise get 22mbps. I know of others who do far worse on FTTC. Do these speed stats take actual speeds into account or just openreach reported? I know g.fast can suffer similarly so it feels like these stats need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

  • cheesemp
  • 8 months ago

@Sheephouse, except the USO won't take care of them, Well it might potentially , but the USO doesn't demand 'superfast'

Likewise the R100 in Scotland may well add more to the % but it'll be a relatively low number in the UK stats.

  • Swac3
  • 8 months ago

@sheephouse What intervention money? I don't believe that any of the Government's £5 billion intervention fund has yet been allocated or spent. BDUK money was primarily spent on areas where commercial funding was not available and I would expect that that is also where the intervention fund will be targeted. Without government intervention slow areas will be limited to upgrading to USO rather than gigabit and I would consider it unlikely that commercial companies will upgrade unprofitable areas as an act of charity.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago

I dont really know anything about Virgin media, whats their standard offering capable of over their cable network ? As theyre stated as having 51.8% coverage in the TBB figures, does all that coverage provide the option of 100Mbps?

If so then as you say its a small milestone when all the other providers added together have raised that by 8% collectively.

  • Swac3
  • 8 months ago

@Swac3, you are quite correct that the USO doesn't demand superfast. A year or so ago the fora discussions assumed that USO would mean FTTP - more recent comments are coming around to the view that it will be 4G in most cases (which for many isn't superfast). However, I fear that the assumption by politicians is that USO will solve the problem.

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

@MCM999, BDUK money has been spent in the way that benefits the most people for the least money - but that policy has left those with the worst connections behind. The new money won't be available for a couple of years. Fastershire don't expect any builds with that money to happen until 2023, and also don't expect it to help any properties in the Fastershire area - the Forest of Dean currently has only 83% superfast coverage (and some parts of the country are worse than that!).

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

All Virgin Media cable broadband is capable of 100 Mbps, usual maximum speed is 350 Mbps or 500 Mbps (a small amount of 1.1 Gbps at present), also a few small places with a 200 Mbps limit due to heavy usage.

Minimum speed sold today is 100 Mbps, and upgrades for those on legacy packages, but these are not compulsory at this time.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

Fast connections keep getting faster.
Super slow (1.7Mbps) connections don't ever get faster.
Good job.
Yay!

  • ahockings
  • 8 months ago

@sheephouse And your point is? "BDUK money has been spent in the way that benefits the most people for the least money" This sounds to me an excellent use of resources as it has brought faster broadband to large swathes of the country that otherwise would still be on slow connections. OK, that has meant that some like yourself have been left behind but that's a problem for government not commercial companies. Here's hoping that when the additional £5 billion government funding is released it is spent on those areas that are commercially non-viable including your own and perhaps even mine.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago

@MCM999. my point is really that there are people being left behind because the intervention money has gone primarily to those that are just not quite commercially viable (but now happen to be commercially viable for FTTP after all), rather than those that are least commercially viable.
Also the LLFN and the "Outside In" approach for the next tranch of government spending from 2023 isn't going to change that. Although I'd like it to.

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

@sheephouse the BDUK money was spent so that it benefited the greatest number of properties. How else would you expect /public/ money to be spent?

If the government has £1m to spend and asks you where to spend it would you help 1,000 people or 100,000?

  • AndrueC
  • 8 months ago

@AndrueC, it rather depends on what you think intervention is for. Is it to benefit the maximum number of people, or to resolve the worst inequality?
The former is attractive as it gives a warm feeling that you've done something worthwhile with the money, but it means that the worst inequalities never get resolved.

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

@sheephouse "it means that the worst inequalities never get resolved" I know I'm straying into politics however is it solely government that should help fix such problems and to what extent should it be down to the individual? Let's take an absurd case. I live on a mountain, miles from anywhere, perhaps I'm a shepherd. Should I expect to be able to have gigabit or even superfast broadband access or should I move and take another job. However we need shepherds so just how far should government go to fix such problems. Cost has to be taken into account when applying any solution.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago


It's a great debate, Of course when you're comparing the 'value' of the state intervention, and the viewpoint that its better to help 100,000 rather than 10,000 with the money avaliable, what that also results in is that state funding is gifted to those people with the lowest potential personal cost should they have had to pay for it themselves.

Best use of funds/outcome, well thats always going to be a subjective issue when we're talking about how our taxes are spent and what sections of society benefit and who doesnt.

  • Swac3
  • 8 months ago

6 in 10 (60%) as with the other national stats we see used that 'look good'
(I mean cool we're over half way there right?) But when you take a look at the link in the article 'Costituencies' and click to order the Ultrafast coverage in worst to best, you see just how far away we are in many of the individual areas from closing that gap.

Areas with 95%+ Superfast with under 1% at Ultrafast.

  • Swac3
  • 8 months ago

@MCM999, good points. However a lot of the sub-superfast lines are not on remote mountains, they are in the centre of major cities or on the edge of villages that already have FTTC.
Also the shepherd could probably be served by a ptp wireless link for less than some inner city solutions (he probably wouldn't need gigabit, but he will need broadband to fill in all his DEFRA forms).

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

@Swac3, I agree 60% ultrafast does sound good, but as you point out it isn't evenly distributed. My constituency has 20% ultrafast, but only 83% superfast - and 12% are sub-USO. But those with only sub-superfast options are not priorities as we're now pushing for 50% FTTP in a few years - only that 50% will be predominantly areas that are already superfast.

  • sheephouse
  • 8 months ago

@sheephouse. Living in central London and previously on a sub USO EO line I fully understand where you are coming from especially as BDUK funding was unavailable and neither the GLC or Lambeth were interested. However we were lucky. We are a tight cluster of 75 properties and thanks to help from Andrew Ferguson and following direct negotiations with Openreach we were able together to gap fund the installation of an AIO FTTC cab. I fully appreciate that others aren't so fortunate and that the costs for a more diverse cluster as in rural areas would have been far more than the £18K it cost us.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago

Also showing the unevenness, local constituency figures 4% ultrafast, 83% superfast, 12% sub USO.
Still waiting to hear if I'll be covered by R100

  • brianhe
  • 8 months ago

@thinkbroadband Meanwhile I’m struggling to get 6mbs

  • @sbmedia20
  • comment via twitter
  • 8 months ago

Stuck on FTTC for the time being, as Virgin's cabinets stop at the end of our new build street (4 years old), and they are showing no sign of doing in-fill for us. FTTP from OpenReach? Dream on, possible perhaps in another 8 years, but already 4 years late with nothing on the horizon.

  • Spitfire400
  • 8 months ago

@Spitfire400 How is OpenReach 4 years late? You mention being in a new build that's 4 years old. Did the builder include the availability of FTTP in their sales literature and your contract? Given that you currently have FTTC it would appear that that is what your builder asked OpenReach to supply.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago

Yet another person stuck on a sub standard ADSL connection here! Not expecting any improvement any time soon (my lifetime?). I suppose there's no money in it for anyone to sort it out for sparsely populated rural areas like where I live.

R100 ... ha ha ha

  • MrBeeline
  • 8 months ago

Sounds like I'm not the only one to see comments of people 'stuck on fftc' and think luxury, or only 6Mbps and think that would be a good speed boost. Still waiting to see which premises R100 will cover, never mind the timescale.

  • brianhe
  • 8 months ago

Nominal connection may be interesting to some but delvered speeds appear to be drifting down as usage increases. How rapidly will the decline in delivered speed increase when a couple of million more are working/studying at home or watching sport/films instead of going out and catching Covid 19?

  • PhilipVirgo
  • 8 months ago

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