Emergence of UK’s first three-provider street

End of year view of broadband deployments – December 2019

We continue to use our Broadband Infrastructure Index (BII) to chart the progress of network build in the UK, using data from both Thinkbroadband and Point Topic under our ThinkPoint brand. At the end of 2019 progress had continued on all fronts with full fibre (and RFOG) from various suppliers spreading through the country.

What is clearly noticeable is that the infrastructure competition that is Ofcom’s chosen mechanism to speed the spread of full fibre is starting to have an impact.  We now show our first UK street with FTTP from Openreach as well as from two alternative suppliers, Hyperoptic and newcomer G.Network, adding to the choice.

This is timely given the release on 8 January 2020 of Ofcom’s consultation Promoting investment and competition in fibre networks – Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26. The regulator proposes different approaches to regulating Openreach’s residential broadband products in different parts of the UK. This will depend on the level of current or prospective competition in a given area, namely in competitive areas where there is established competition, in potentially competitive areas, and in non-competitive areas where Openreach is the operator providing a large-scale network.  This approach is consistent with the proposals Ofcom set out in March 2019. Point Topic’s Policy and Public Sector update report provides further details.

To no-one’s surprise one of the first places to get the multi-fibre network treatment is typified by a street in St James’s in Central London and with a Nordic connection to boot (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Street in St James’s in Central London with a choice of three networks

We expect suppliers to focus on areas where they can get the best return and where they can also get a cooperative planning environment with Westminster Council as one of the leading exponents of facilitating wayleaves and helping their residents and businesses (see their broadband voucher success) get more bandwidth.

Virgin Media’s full fibre RFOG deployment

Virgin Media continues to add to its footprint and we are also tracking the operator’s full fibre RFOG deployments. We have found just short of 450,000 premises spread around the country. More data can be found in our quarterly spreadsheet accompanying this report.

Indy networks report over 750,000 new premises

The independent (alternative) networks are also expanding reporting more than 750,000 new premises passed in the last quarter. While they are largely steering clear of one another and if possible Openreach and Virgin Media, we are seeing the beginnings of overbuild. A list of local authorities with two or more full fibre independent networks intersecting covering 1,000 premises or more is available in our quarterly spreadsheet.

Openreach’s expanding full fibre rollout

Full fibre is pushing ahead, and check on www.thinkbroadband.com for the most up to date numbers.  In our end 2019 dataset we get the following counts for FTTP availability gain for Openreach.

Figure 2: FTTP availability gain for Openreach

 

Even where Gfast has been deployed we see some Openreach FTTP availability.

So, again in our dataset, we see Openreach FTTP overtake its ADSL-only footprint (see Figure 3). Of course we lag identifying those premises passed compared to Openreach announcements.

Figure 3: Point Topic view of Openreach premises passed

 Openreach premises passed (Dec 19)
fttc 24,263,228
gfast 2,030,708
Any Openreach FTTP 1,793,030
adsl 1,765,430

There is more detail on the general picture for UK broadband infrastructure from the following:

Get the full report

The full report and the accompanying spreadsheet is also available to subscribers of Point Topic’s UK Plus service. Please telephone +44 (0)20 3301 3303 or e-mail simona@point-topic.com for more details.

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