Broadband News

Popularity of different broadband technologies in Q1 2020

Each quarter we take a look at the technology split we see in terms of speed tests being run. This information helps to give an idea of what is happening beyond the ever positive PR or lack of PR in some cases around what the public is buying in terms of broadband.

Technology trends in the United Kingdom 2012 to 2020
Changing patterns of technology seen in speed tests since 2012 in the UK

The UK trend chart holds no big surprises for Q1 2020, the pattern of people switching from ADSL/ADSL2+ to FTTC or FTTP continues and the flat performance of cable broadband after a few years of decline suggests that Liberty Global with its Project Lightning is winning customers in new areas but may be shedding them to competitors in older areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic while starting in Q1 2020 was too late in the quarter to have a visible impact, but it will be interesting to see if there is observable effect at the end of Q2 2020. The theory suggests that with social distancing measures and providers hiding some full fibre products that the rise in the FTTP line may flatten.

Any negative impact from COVID-19 that may eventually appear in the Q2 2020 figures might be trumped by a rush of people to upgrade to full fibre where available once lockdown restrictions are eased. Though with lots of people on furlough and worried about their monthly outgoings the rush to full fibre might be restricted to those working from home and chasing more speed or a second connection so that working from home becomes easier.

Technology trends in Cornwall 2012 to 2020
Changing patterns of technology seen in speed tests since 2012 in Cornwall

Cornwall as a county is further down the full fibre path with 1 in 5 speed tests over full fibre infrastructure compared to just under 1 in 20 in the UK but with a mean download speed of just 32.9 Mbps and mean upload of 7.7 Mbps still has an unusually slow set of speeds from Q1 2020. So while there are lots of people using FTTP it does not guarantee high speeds in league tables the reason being that only a small number have purchased a service faster than 76 Mbps, across the county just 3% of speed tests were over 76 Mbps. The gulf between the observed speeds and what is possible even in a County where superfast coverage is only 93.1% is that if every one purchased the fastest possible connection the mean download would be around 398 Mbps.

This small percentage buying the 160 Mbps and faster FTTP services was something we expected to start changing during 2020 as the prices have come down such that even before allowing for inflation you can get a 500 Mbps service for the same price that 0.5 Mbps broadband launched at two decades ago.

Our general rule is that a households needs around 10 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload per resident to be happy with their broadband connection (faults excepted). So we are watching to see if in Q2 we see a noticable shift from entry level 40/10 type VDSL2 services to the faster 80/20 product for those it will give a speed boost to and once orders are being taken again whether those with an FTTP option will upgrade much sooner.

If there are any two council areas people would like to see the similar graphs for then let us know in the comments, we may well do short news items so people can see the change over time and why this means in various league tables the areas are placed where they are.

Comments

If I was in charge of VM I'd be ashamed and worried about that graph. All this increased interest in a fast connection and they are struggling to even retain customers.

  • AndrueC
  • about 1 month ago

It would be good to see one of the councils covered by a high penetration fibre first to compare with Cornwall. Also Kingston on Hull where I would expect take-up to be very high by now. ( Alternatively somewhere like Ceredigion where the is significant rural FTTP, but may just be similar to Cornwall)

  • jumpmum
  • about 1 month ago

Re Corvid 19 effects. My recorded speeds seem to be steadily falling withh FTTC. I was getting 45+MBs from BT but tonight's figure is less than half that.

  • bsg017
  • about 1 month ago

Interesting, but I'd question the use of 'Popularity' I was until recently one of those on adsl and it certainly hasn't been popular for a long time, maybe for a while after we switched from dial up Isdn

  • Swac3
  • about 1 month ago

I think its very likely to you'll see the FTTC tests drop to almost even with the number of new connections going live, as there's likely little need once your fibre has gone live and works. FTTC well there's issues with range and copper faults so likely to level out much higher but test numbers kept high due to the variability of service and by people considering upgrades where alternative option have been deployed.

It's likely too much effort , But I'd love to see a Scottish region comparison. Noticed Aberdeen the 3rd largest city in Scotland came in 310th on the list

  • Swac3
  • about 1 month ago

Agh cant edit here but meant FTTP in the first line not FTTC.

  • Swac3
  • about 1 month ago

While I am sure you have much greater experience in analysis of the figures at TB, I cannot help but wonder whether part of the 'reasoning' may be made on perhaps 'flaky' grounds. For example, while you will know how many people have carried out speed tests in the county, you can only really guess at the proportions of actual users, vs the speed test samples.

  • NetGuy
  • 29 days ago

(continued)

Say you had 2000 speed tests in 2018. Many may have been on ADSL, a few on FTTP and more on FTTC. Move on to 2020. Those who are using FTTP and some who use FTTC may be so happy 99% of the time they have not been back to TB to run a speed test, but perhaps are chuffed with good results on speedtest.net and therefore have no/few complaints regarding speed issues. Your 2020 sample of users in the county may show the speed groups in the wrong proportions and therefore could be weighted towards ADSL even though they are actually the minority of (actual) users within the county.

  • NetGuy
  • 29 days ago

(last)

I am not a statistician, and bow to superior knowledge, but there can be some factors which are part of the "known unknowns" which may skew results one way or another, and the true figures cannot be determined easily, as they are mostly going to be commercially sensitive and kept private by the ISPs offering services in the county. Even documents submitted to councils etc funding expansion will likely be tied with a non disclosure agreement.

  • NetGuy
  • 29 days ago

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