How popular are the different broadband technologies?
The first quarter of 2021 ended a few weeks ago so now is a chance to look at how popular the main broadband technologies are.
Q1 2021 UK wide broadband technology popularity based on speed tests
- ADSL/ADSL2+ 15.48% of tests
- FTTC/VDSL2/partial fibre 54.92% of tests
- G.fast/partial fibre 0.49% of tests
- Cable/DOCSIS broadband 22.6% of tests
- FTTP/Full Fibre 6.93% of tests
- Fixed Wireless/FWA 0.31% of tests
These data points are based on crowd sourced data from the speed testers are operate and are presented in a rare format with no modelling, so in interpreting results it is less about one individual quarters figures but what the trend over time is.
While the popularity of full fibre in Q1 2021 was fractionally lower at 6.93% versus 7.03% from Q4 2020 this sort of variation is to be expected from the crowd sourced nature but also may reflect a lower volume of installs that took place during Q1. The volume of installs will definitely have been lower as Openreach during lockdown put FTTP installs on hold once again and as the dominant FTTP operator they will have a big impact on the figures. Q2 2021 will help to show if this was a statistical blip or the start of worrying trend that people are not signing up to full fibre services in the volume investors want.
Old fashioned copper ADSL/ADSL2+ continues its steady decline in popularity and Virgin Media cable may be starting to be more popular once again.
The chart we have published is for the whole UK picking a couple of random authorities we can see the change in popularity of full fibre between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021.
|Local Authority||Q1 2020 FTTP popularity||Q1 2021 FTTP popularity||FTTP Coverage 22nd April 2021|
|City of Edinburgh||6.35%||8.41%||44.73%|
The four council areas show that there is a lot of variation across the UK and that what might be working to drive take-up in one are might not work in other areas.
The vast majority of marketing is pushing the gigabit dream and unfortunately that means that an awful lot of people think full fibre is expensive when in reality the vast majority of FTTP operators have slower speeds in the 50 to 100 Mbps region available at semi reasonable prices. The big difference with full fibre is the reliability i.e. no random resyncs due to a neighbour using a treadmill.
One problem for take-up is that while many reading this will not mind al £5 to £10/m premium for full fibre there is an even bigger number for whom broadband is just another utility bill. The popularity of partial fibre (FTTC) compared to copper (ADSL/ADSL2+) only started to rise once pricing dropped to around £25/m or as low as £20/m if you buy at the right point in the price cycle. One benefit for network operators is that full fibre is less costly to operate in terms of maintenance but that benefit will only apply to Openreach, KCOM and Virgin Media as they are the three operators with legacy metallic local loops and this benefit will only be realised once they can stop maintaining those legacy networks.