Superfast and ultrafast lines reach 80 per cent share milestone

An analysis of Q4 2020 UK ISP numbers

The surge in demand by consumers for faster, more reliable broadband services which began with the first COVID-19 lockdown in Q2 2020 has marked a step change in consumers attitudes towards home broadband with many viewing it as an essential service.

Subscribers appetites for more bandwidth have continued to grow with all major suppliers coping with the demand. As the COVID-19 lockdown measures eased in early July and deployment issues waned, Q2 and Q3 saw broadband subscriptions continually accelerating after several years of declining growth. With the country going into its second lockdown in November, Openreach demonstrated that it had fully come to grips with rolling out despite access restrictions being in place. Virgin remained relatively unaffected as they accelerated their Docsis 3.1 network upgrade over its existing footprint since the pandemic began. CityFibre meanwhile announced construction projects up and down the country with active deployments in 20 areas since the close of Q2 2020 and have passed c.500,000 premises at the close of the year.

Openreach’s run-rate for the quarter reached 42,000 premises per week with 4.050 million premises passed. The supplier reported some impressive results with a surge in FTTP connections in Q4 2020, reaching a total of 790,000 up from 655,000 in the previous quarter. That equates to a take-up of 19.51 per cent (up from 18.71 per cent last quarter). Take-up of their service stands at just 6.25 per cent up from 4.87 per cent last quarter, which is quite lacklustre given that their rollout of has been on pause for the past year, meaning that take-up should have taken hold by now, however the decision by BT to focus on FTTP instead was clearly the right one.

Figure 1: Superfast/ultrafast share of total broadband market 2016 to 2020



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