Broadband News

Almost 1 in 10 premises in Blaenau Gwent impacted by waiting list for partial fibre connections

The problem of waiting lists for those wanting to order VDSL2 has been an ongoing issue for many years now and while Openreach usually adds more capacity at its own expense the time it takes can leave people waiting for weeks or months in some cases.

We have no data to support the theory that there may have been a wave of people upgrading to FTTC from ADSL/ADSL2+ where it is available during lockdown but there has been the odd moan about the waiter list issue. This usually only becomes apparent after people have started to place their upgrade order. In the past a cabinet being at capacity and on the waiting list also blocked migrations but our understanding is that migrations should be possible.

So what is the impact across the UK, well looking at the cabinets we see on the waiting list this affects 1.83% of UK premises, but this varies from region to region.

Our headline mentioned Blaenau Gwent where the issue affects 9.55% of premises, but for the Orkney Islands it is even higher at 14.6%, East Lothian 8.78% and Isle of Wight is at 8.48%. So there are hotspots of demand or just the usual ramping up of demand but due to the lockdown sourcing the extra hardware and people to travel and carry out the work may be taking longer than usual.

Before the regional table the figures are the number potentially affected, what we cannot take into account is how many ports are already live on a cabinet i.e. if a VDSL2 cabinet offers superfast speeds to 200 premises and its showing waiting list we will add 200 premises to our counter. The reality will always be different e.g. 120 might already be connected and live.

Regions and impact of VDSL2 waiting list
Regions listed in order of decreasing number of premises
Coverage levels take into the account impact of waiters
RegionWaiting list impact
(% premises)
Superfast coverage
30 Mbps and faster
Openreach partial/full fibre coverage any speedOpenreach Superfast coverage
30 Mbps and faster
UK -1.83% 94.6% 91.2% 88.5%
Great Britain -1.82% 94.8% 91% 88.6%
England -1.77% 95.2% 91% 88.6%
London -1.24% 96.3% 88.8% 87.7%
North West -1.72% 95.3% 93.7% 91.3%
South West -3.13% 92.1% 89.1% 85%
West Midlands -1.15% 96.4% 91.2% 89.6%
East of England -2.21% 94.1% 91.3% 88.5%
Scotland -1.86% 92.8% 91.4% 87.6%
Yorkshire and Humber -1.13% 96.1% 90.5% 88.5%
South East -1.97% 95.6% 92.2% 90%
Wales -2.57% 92.7% 93.9% 90.9%
East Midlands -1.61% 96.1% 93.4% 91.5%
North East -1.53% 96.1% 86.3% 85.1%
Northern Ireland -2.15% 86.9% 95.9% 85.8%

The capacity/waiting list is very dynamic so our figures are actually a snap shot from the week ending 9th May 2020.

Openreach does normally add more capacity but there are times when if a second cabinet is needed that no suitable cabinet location exists, hence the appearance of VDSL2 sidepods which are actually hung off the side of the green copper cabinet and look identical to G.fast pods. As to why every cabinet was not built with enough VDSL2 ports for the number of households, it is down to expectations on planning and attempts to avoid unused kit sitting in cabinets for years. For the cabinets delivered by a BDUK project, the project does not pay for expansion but the costs fall upon Openreach, we suspect that if 100% capacity had been built from the start the BDUK projects would have had to pay more, leading to a smaller footprint.

In theory with the 2025 Gigabit for all target VDSL2 capacity will cease to be an issue, but there will be the capacity limit of how many people can the various full fibre and Gigabit providers employ to visit premises to install the fibre or coax if connecting to a DOCSIS 3.1 network. 

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