UK broadband availability at the end of 2018

Early analysis of our updated data, collated and compiled by Point Topic and Thinkbroadband

This paper refers to the Point Topic dataset v29a, version 29 of the availability of broadband at postcode level in the UK. This dataset establishes the operators and technologies available in all postcodes in the UK at December 2018.

Major updates and deployments

Openreach

Speed tests and subsequent follow-up has resulted in the following changes to the Openreach technology available in each postcode since v28a (rev01 June 18):

Openreach Technology Households June 2018 Households Dec 2018
ADSL 1,954,313 1,794,594
fttc 25,731,159 24,843,708
FTTP 455,981 525,230*
FTTP-FTTC 37,942
FTTP only 3,951
Gfast 169,975 1,217,225
Unknown 177,158 229,983

*TOTAL IN OPENREACH FTTP

At this stage it appears that Gfast is deploying far more rapidly than FTTP. It should be noted that it can take a month or two for us to catch up with all new deployments.

Premises by % of total – Openreach Technology (NB Y&H inc. Kcom)

Region ADSL FTTC FTTP Gfast Grand Total
East Midlands 0.3% 6.5% 0.1% 0.2% 7.1%
East of England 0.4% 7.8% 0.1% 0.5% 8.8%
London 1.3% 10.2% 0.3% 0.7% 12.5%
North East 0.6% 3.6% 0.0% 0.1% 4.2%
North West 0.5% 10.2% 0.1% 0.5% 11.3%
Northern Ireland 0.1% 2.4% 0.1% 0.0% 2.7%
Scotland 0.7% 7.9% 0.1% 0.4% 9.0%
South East 0.5% 12.3% 0.3% 0.7% 13.8%
South West 0.8% 7.1% 0.5% 0.4% 8.7%
Wales 0.2% 4.2% 0.3% 0.2% 4.9%
West Midlands 0.7% 7.5% 0.1% 0.3% 8.6%
Yorkshire and The Humber 0.6% 6.9% 0.5% 0.3% 8.3%
Grand Total 6.5% 86.3% 1.9% 4.4% 100.0%

Virgin Media

We continue to track the Virgin Media civils as well as the updates from speed tests. Project Lightning continues although it has apparently slowed. Estimates on the extent of the expansion vary we believe due in part to partial coverage in postcodes. We have increased the total premises passed by around 960,000 in 2018 but we continue to refine the footprint as we chew through the inputs and checks.  This puts the current Virgin Media footprint covering postcodes with 16.15 million premises in v29.

We will have a more complete analysis in Q219 with v30.

Altnets

We will generate in depth analysis of the altnet deployments later in the year (March/April 2019). This is to allow more data to be collated via a survey as it is more difficult to track them individually.

In the updates that we do have, we have seen growth from Hyperoptic, less at this stage from Gigaclear and the emergence of Gigafast as Vodafone starts to deploy, mostly in Milton Keynes in this version.

The data updates that are available are in the relevant fields in the full data outputs. The same caveat applies as for Openreach in terms of catching up with all the deployments and footprints.

Definition of homes/premises passed

Ofcom has updated its definition of what is meant by full fibre coverage in its Connected Nations report and its data outputs.

Ofcom’s changed definition of full fibre coverage (Connected Nations 2018):

“The definition for full fibre coverage has been changed. From Sept 2018 it represents where the network has been rolled out to a “lead-in” that will serve the consumer end premise and where the consumer would expect to pay a standard installation charge for that connection.”

Previously it was (Connected Nations 2017):

“We currently consider a property covered by full fibre services only if they can be connected within 14 days.”

We asked Ofcom for some clarification:

“Thank you for your query. Please see some detailed answers in red below, but in short, we have changed the definition to one which refers to a CP’s standard lead times and prices, so that it aligns with what a CP would consider to be their coverage. We do not expect it to give us a different estimate of coverage.”

At this stage, Point Topic does not know what impact this may have on the numbers for premises passed and subsequent calculations for additionality. We will run analysis in the next few weeks. As referenced above, Ofcom does not expect the new definition to result in any change in the numbers of homes and businesses passed by full fibre.

Bandwidths

The modem sync and throughput fields have been updated with the 2 January 2019 release of Ofcom data – https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/infrastructure-research/connected-nations-2018.

This is augmented with speed tests from the thinkbroadband network as well as our mapping and analysis of cabinet locations and line lengths.

This analysis will be developed to allow a better view of the expected maximums (max_nga) that Gfast, in particular, can offer in.

More detail on the overall and local bandwidths is available on the thinkbroadband site – http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/uk.

Related links, stories and sources

Our most recent superfast and ultrafast reports (note the data update is more recent than these reports):

Thinkbroadband also produces ongoing analysis and outputs. Recent examples that highlight the progression and intersection of operators, technologies and deployments:

The analysis of our updated data, collated and compiled by Point Topic and thinkbroadband is published in our thinkpoint outputs sets:

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