BT and BDUK push bandwidth deeper into the UK

May 14, 2014   |   Oliver Johnson

The South East of England has been the recipient of most broadband advances in the UK since the late 90′s. A densely populated area with plenty of disposable income this has been a logical choice for all operators seeking to maximise their return on investment.

The advent of a digital strategy for the UK has started to make itself felt though.

“During 2013 we’ve seen the most significant improvements in bandwidth availability outside the South East. Superfast speeds are working their way through the urban areas into the suburbs and out into the countryside,”

says Oliver Johnson, Chief Executive at Point Topic.

Figure 1: Change in available bandwidth at Local Authority level – Dec 2012 to Dec 2013

Change in bandwidth

The percentage change in bandwidth on average by LA from Dec 2012 to Dec 2013

We can see from the map the relatively low percentage increases in bandwidth during 2013 in parts of the South East since supply was already in place. In Wales and parts of the Midlands and some of Western Scotland however consumers will have to wait a little longer to see significantly faster broadband. The dark green areas by contrast are where BT and BDUK have made a real impact during the last year.

Many of the BDUK projects are phased to enable superfast from town to country over the next two to three years. In the coming 18 months we’ll see more suburban and rural areas gaining ground predominantly outside the South East again.

Looking to the future

The spread of higher bandwidths through the UK has been quicker than originally projected at least for BT’s commercial program. Attention is now shifting to making those speeds available to everyone.

Questions remain over coverage for the last five to ten percent in the most rural areas. There are more options available to fill the gaps with the new head of BDUK, Chris Townsend, recently stating his desire to engage with the nimble smaller players. Some of whom are already signing contracts to cover those hard to reach areas.

“We see no reason why coverage targets won’t be met but that’s not the end of the story. There will be low speed spots remaining, business parks for example are currently poorly served, but the ongoing efforts to stimulate adoption will need to ramp up before the UK can claim to be a truly digital nation,”

says Johnson.