Gigabit coverage in UK predicted to be 74.9% in December 2025
The broadband roll-outs for full fibre appear to have settled into a pattern and this means it is possible to project what might happen if the commercial and BDUK roll-outs continue at their current rates and also what the impact of the Virgin Media DOCSIS 3.1 roll-out will have on the targets.
There is a lot that can change the prediction we have made that Gigabit coverage will be 74.9% in December 2025 and FTTP coverage slightly behind at 67.1%. It is very likely that the monthly changes in the next few years will vary, so while some months might see a bigger change this will get balanced out over time with quieter months. As with all predictions it will be interesting to see how close we get to this.
The prediction does not take into account what the UK Government does with the £5 billion of funding it has in theory set aside to improve Gigabit coverage in areas where commercial operators fear to tread without subsidy. There are some clues about it involving lots of smaller contracts, but since the actual procurement process has not actually started it is impossible to predict the effect.
The Gigabit figures hit an early win and should break through the 60% barrier in about 18 months, this is down largely to the Virgin Media DOCSIS 3.1 switch on. The Gigabit projection does not mirror the FTTP rate after May 2022 because we expect the commercial FTTP roll-outs to continue over building the Virgin Media network, increasing provider choice for consumers.
If the Government is hoping the £5 billion is going to deliver something Gigabit capable for 10% to 20% of the UK, then its clear that the FTTP roll-outs need to accelerate or there needs to be less overlap with the existing cable networks. Since our prediction shows there is a risk that they may have to spread that £5 billion between 7.5 million properties rather than 6 million. Even with the lower 6 million property figure this is only a subsidy of £833 for each property which is lower than the sort of figures the BDUK projects are looking at FTTP in rural areas already. The Government may be hoping that the BDUK projects that may keep delivering until 2024 will deliver to the harder to reach areas and the £5 billion will actually fill in the gaps between commercial roll-out and BDUK funded roll-out.
While we could update the prediction every month we will hold back from doing so, since we need to see further roll-out of the DOCSIS 3.1 network. Unless there is a major change to the figures we will revisit our prediction around this time in 2021, both to see how right or wrong we are and also since there may then be enough information to do a prediction that includes the £5 billion of spending.