Broadband News

We have worked out how much of the UK will have a Gigabit option in 2025

Predicting the future is always difficult but with the launch of a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that is looking into 'broadband and the road to 5G" it is the right time to deliver some worked examples.

Remember for all these scenarios there are the additional questions about what the Government will deliver with its £5 billion that it has earmarked for something like the final 10% to 20% of premises that it thinks will not be reached commercially. It is worth pointing out that while £5 billion is more than any of us can imagine as a pile of cash, 20% of UK properties is some 6 million premises and thus £5 billion equates ot funding of £800 per property, which is a lot lower than the believed intervention cost of many of the properties seeing FTTP made available as the BDUK projects finish up.

Before sharing the scenarios, it should be pointed out that while the degree of overlap is based on patterns already seen what the market does, Ofcom regulation and Government prodding could very easily mean bigger overlaps or smaller.

  • Baseline Scenario: 57.9% Gigabit Coverage Dated end of 2021 and Virgin Media has finished its DOCSIS Gig1 roll-out and no more FTTP has been delivered commerically or otherwise.
  • Scenario 1: 63.3% Gigabit Coverage Dated end of 2021. Virgin Media Gig1 roll-out is complete. Openreach has rolled out FTTP to 4 million premises with overlaps of 50% to other FTTP or Virgin Media networks. CityFibre has built to 1 million premises (up from the 186,000 today) with a similar overlap rate compared to Openreach. Plus another 200,000 premises of full fibre from other operators that is not overlapping. This should be the realistic worst case scenario for 2025.
  • Scenario 2: 79.7% Gigabit Coverage Dated end of 2025. Virgin Media Gig1 complete. Openreach has finished building FTTP to 15 million premises and an overlap rate of 70%. CityFibre has built its 5 million target with the same overlap rate of 70%. Other providers have built to 0.5 million premises once you allow for the overlaps with other networks.
  • Scenario 3: 88.9% Gigabit Coverage Dated end of 2025. Same amounts of FTTP built as scenario 2 but the overlap rate has been reduced to 50%. We believe that an overlap rate of just 50% based on what we already know about the FibreFirst rollout and CityFibre Gigabit cities is too optimistic.
  • Scenario 4: 73.9% Gigabit Coverage Dated end of 2025. Same amounts of FTTP as scenario 2 but overlap rate increased to 80%.

The work under BDUK contracts, the phase 2 contract in Wales and R100 work in Scotland is accounted for in the Openreach 15 million FTTP figure, i.e. we expect very little overlap in the rural areas, though it is possible we may see this happening in market towns if Virgin Media continues to build at around 145,000 premises per quarter.

The biggest challenge facing the Government is not the amount of funding but rather will awarding those contracts change what is happening commercially. If the BDUK contracts had not occupied BT and Openreach so much between the end of 2012 and late 2018 it is very likely that the commercial roll-out of FTTP at the pace of 100,000 or so premises each month would have started earlier. Though the couple of years when the future of Openreach and its position in the BT Group was political/financial battle also played a large part in why it was not until April 2018 that the Fibre First programme was announced.

A little snippet to end on the baseline scenario generated our usual local authority list and the top 10 places for Gigabit coverage with the cable network fully running DOCSIS 3.1 and no more full fibre built between now and the end of 2021 is:

THESE ARE GIGABIT PREDICTIONS FOR THE END OF 2021:

  1. City of Kingston on Hull 98.7%
  2. City of Bristol 95.6%
  3. Barking and Dagenham 95.4%
  4. City of Portsmouth 95.3%
  5. City of Nottingham 94.8%
  6. Richmond upon Thames 94.6%
  7. Redbridge 94.1%
  8. Waltham Forest 94%
  9. Middlesborough 93.6%
  10. Luton 93.6%

We some people are not too happy about Virgin Media Gig1 with its 1108 Mbps download and just 50 Mbps upload being included in the 2025 target, but the plan is to switch to DOCSIS 3.1 for the upload before 2025. The switch to DOC3IS 3.1 will allow for higher upload speeds. Also remember in the various scenarios there is also a lot of overlap between Gig1 and full fibre servies, something which are setting up tracking of during March.

The next million pound question we need to answer is what speeds will people be buying in 2025 and the reality we believe is less about what speeds people think they need and more about what they want to pay. In short if we also want to see large numbers using Gigabit services and not just buying a 40 Mbps service that is across full fibre the price for Gigabit services will need to fall to whatever £25/m today is worth in 2025 money.

Comments

Do you have predictions for the bottom local authority areas?

  • sheephouse
  • 28 days ago

Chocolate 50p bet... the bottom 5% today will STILL be the bottom 5% in 2025. The "haves" will have even more and the "have nots" will stay the same as they are now.

  • DanielCoffey
  • 27 days ago

I totally agree with DanielCoffey on this subject. I have been relentlessly emailing Virgin Media for the last four years about our street which Openreach did not deploy full fibre to in 2016 when constructed, and Virgin missed when project lightning was winding down in the town of Ayr. They probably have 99% coverage in our area, but that does not include every street does it?

  • Spitfire400
  • 27 days ago

Yep - it'll still patchy even in urban areas. I'd place a bet on that. The urban area I live in isn't small enough for help but isn't big enough to be easily commercially viable to run a cable down to for Virgin/Altnets. Suspect we're at the bottom of the pile, just above the 5% that openreach won't bother with...

  • cheesemp
  • 27 days ago

Echo DanielCoffey's sentiments.

Government/Suppliers are too focused on increasing coverage percentages, rather than focussing on premises that are not served with better services.

Yes FTTPoD is available here. All included in coverage, but only if you're prepared to pay for the roadworks. Just like saying there's a personal limo service if you hire the limo. I'm sure the actual percentage of people hiring are few and far between.

  • camieabz
  • 27 days ago

IMPORTANT: FTTPoD does not feature in coverage figures. No idea why so many think it does and who is saying it is.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 27 days ago

Is this serious? 'If the BDUK contracts had not occupied BT and Openreach so much between the end of 2012 and late 2018 it is very likely that the commercial roll-out of FTTP at the pace of 100,000 or so premises each month ...'

OR MDs in 2017 could only point to Patterson's press releases on G.Fast as the reason for not stepping forward with more FTTP.

The problem with BT's Group bid for the BDUK is that although funds included a significant amount of FTTP in-fill, BT decided to focus on cabinets only for the most part. They could have happily billed Gov for another 1-2k engineers.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 27 days ago

I'm pretty sure Openreach built to the contracts. They don't get to decide how they're going to build and can't randomly bill the government for things.

Had FTTP been specified in the contracts it would have been delivered. It wasn't so it hasn't been.

Looking at the documents that have been made public exceeding a certain cost per premises was problematic and considered poor value.

Had the documents specified FTTP / gigabit-capable it would've been good to go. They specified 24/30 Mb which could be delivered most rapidly and cheaply via cabinets.

Rewriting history is a poor look.

  • CarlThomas
  • 27 days ago

I thought KCom had confirmed their expansion would see the removal of their limited FTTC deployment (highly sensible as it makes ongoing opex costs much higher than they need to be), which would leave Hull at something very very close to 100%

  • jabuzzard
  • 27 days ago

Kcom like other operators are struggling to get into mdu's, they have fibre ready at the foot of the building just need a way leave to get in. that will boost there coverage figures closer to 100%

  • jonny4288
  • 27 days ago

Carl T .. contracts are relationships of trust.. no specific technology was specified only a capability. I will leave with you.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 27 days ago

@VFM
Mike, the BDUK contracts, in common with other public sector contracts, place a requirement on the supplier to deliver as much as possible at the required spec for the least cost. So whilst FTTC may not have been mandated, it would have been impossible to use FTTP for the vast majority of the installs given the coverage targets, VFM requirements etc.

AS Carl states, the supplier cannot override what is in the contract, this is not about relationships or trust, its a basic requirement. If FTTP had been required, the costings, timescales etc would have been very different.

  • New_Londoner
  • 27 days ago

Yep, another article on coverage and the same comments from the same people with apathy - myself included! If it weren't for EE 4G I would still be getting just 11Mb on BT, I expect this will be completely unchanged in 2025 and probably also 2030. My exchange is also excluded from various Scottish initiatives, except for R100 which is just a political pipedream.

I never expected EE 4G to be saviour that it is, giving me 50Mb. Yes 50, a long way from the gigabit being discussed here.

If the UK is serious about being green, spend the HS2 money on telecoms instead!

  • jimwillsher
  • 27 days ago

New_Lon Whilst thanks for the opinion, the history is yet to be written on this. There was nothing in the contracts to prevent more full fibre, the budgets were there and still there, but timescales demanded more people which never came. It would have helped if BT capital contribution made an appearance when planning the work.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 27 days ago

Contracts are not relationships of trust. The entire point of contracts is to remove reliance on trust by providing legal remedies.

If there were a relationship of trust present there would be a gentleman's / gentlewoman's agreement, no need for a contract.

  • CarlThomas
  • 27 days ago

Hi VFM. The money from the clawback can be used for the provision of pure fibre .I think this money goes into a separate account ( Time 7 Years ) so it can be either returned to the ( Government) or used for pure fibre any location for the removal of the USO.

  • Blackmamba
  • 27 days ago

Or some councils may need to return the money they took out of contigency funds to go towards BDUK contributions or fund other public services.

So yes can be used, question is will councils want to or will they see the £5 billion on way from Gov and decide to wait for that.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 27 days ago

@VFM
Whilst it may be true that the history is yet to be written on this, the facts don't lie. To paraphrase CarlT's earlier post, restating the facts is a poor look.

@Andrew
You make a fair point about local councils and the £5bn. I hope my local council uses any gainshare on higher priority projects and leaves any outstanding broadband investment to a combination of central government and network providers.

  • New_Londoner
  • 27 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
I have a feeling that SCC will not use money from this (new pot ) as there is not a demand from the area coverage from the customers off the post codes in Surrey. I also feel there will be only a very few who are unable to get 10+ meg after the 20 of this month. Time will tell.

  • Blackmamba
  • 24 days ago

The 20th will be a reference to the USO and it needs pointing out that the vast majority of people will be offered a 4G plan rather than lots of FTTP getting build under USO criteria.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 24 days ago

Interesting and useful analysis.
BDUK was set up in 2008/9 to give an increase in BW & biggest coverage for the least amount of money. The 24Mb (then 30Mb) was to 'encourage' a technology other than ADSL2+. At the time I remember a figure of £15Bn to fibre the whole of the UK and most people were happy with the promised speed improvements of up to 40/80Mb which was a significant improvement to what was available then. Today over 7M still only take a non-FTTC/Fibre service presumably due to cost/not wanting higher BW.
BDUK contracts are legacy & the remaining infill will be full fibre only.

  • Bikemadevs
  • 24 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers. I would have thought that every MP (365) should have a list of Post Codes that cannot receive 10 Meg thus giving a cross reference to their letter complaints and remarks from their voters.

  • Blackmamba
  • 24 days ago

@Blackbamba Talking rubbish again, sorry to say.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 24 days ago

@BM
"I would have thought that every MP (365) should have a list of Post Codes that cannot receive 10 Meg"

Why? Are their constituents incapable of finding out for themselves what is available at their location? Do we want our MPs acting as an alternative to the various checkers that are available? Should they perhaps be dealing with more important matters, especially just now?

  • New_Londoner
  • 23 days ago

Also there are 650 MP

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 23 days ago

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