A reminder that superfast and high speed broadband is not the same as Gigabit broadband
This week saw a big change in ambition from the Government in terms of helping deliver a Gigabit UK.
The Spending Review saw the old as close to 100% coverage of Gigabit broadband target watered down to 85% with £1.2 billion of funding to help in the non commercial areas.
Unfortunately the scale of the dissapointment and reduction in ambition is being masked or some media outlets do not understand the implication of words like superfast, high speed and Gigabit. For avoidance of doubt
- High Speed Broadband - has never had an official definition but is most often used to refer to download speeds around the 10 to 15 Mbps region.
- Superfast Broadband has an official definition of broadband with download speeds of 30 Mbps or faster. There is also a slightly lower definition of over 24 Mbps which was known as as the Westminster defintion, the higher 30 Mbps arose from the EU definition but has been adopted for any new contracts.
- Gigabit Broadband, download speeds of 900 Mbps should be available.
The Gigabit target was set to be met using a mixture of DOCSIS 3.1 i.e. upgraded Virgin Media network and full fibre (Fibre to the Premises). There was/is likely to be some 5G in the mix, though to get Gigabit speeds in sparse rural areas this 5G would prove possibly as expensive as FTTP, we are expecting to see 5G possibly helping in dense urban areas where upgrading existing cables is proving difficult.
While we are here a little bit of coverage stats housekeeping, the roll-outs of FTTP have been running at a fairly steady 0.2 percentage points increase per week (roughly 60,000 premises per week), but this week has seen us only adding an extra 0.14 points to the total which is 18.37% (Gigabit coverage is higher due to the DOCSIS 3.1 element at 35.48%). We are mentioning this now as if this drop in pace is genuine rather than just a blip due to us looking in all the wrong places this week it is too soon to be a reaction to the Gigabit target changes brought on by the Chancellor.
One thing that has changed in the last month is the amount of UK premises with 2 or more FTTP network options, at the start of November this overlap was just 1.16% of UK premises, now it has risen to 1.261%.
The weekly Saturday update on the public stats has happened and the FTTP networks that have seen extra coverage added this week are Openreach, Virgin Media, KCOM, CityFibre, trooli, toob, OFNL, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, g.network, County Fibre, Fibrus, Fibre Nest, truespeed and WightFibre (order is random).