After several years of slow growth in the fixed broadband market, the surge in demand by consumers for faster, more reliable broadband services during the Q2 COVID-19 lockdown resulted in unusual broadband trends. However, the market is showing signs of stabilisation and steady growth in Q3 2020 as broadband subscriptions continued to accelerate. Openreach continued its FTTP rollout after experiencing supply issues in the previous quarter and reached record levels in Q3, with a run-rate of 40,000 premises per week and 3.5 million premises passed to date. The supplier experienced a surge in the uptake of FTTP subscriptions, reaching a total of 655,000 up from 554,000 in the previous quarter and an overall increase of 62 per cent year-on-year.
Virgin Media recently overtook Openreach in its gigabit coverage as they accelerated their Docsis 3.1 network upgrade over its existing footprint throughout Q2 2020. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, it benefitted from Openreach pausing its installation activity, however this was not such a prominent factor in Q3 as Openreach’s rollout and installations returned to normal. Virgin Media’s continued strong performance is more likely driven by the appeal of their significant downlink speed advantage across the majority of its network footprint, especially by the huge surge in subscribers working-from-home. Virgin saw their UK network coverage grow to reach another 125,000 UK premises bringing the total to 15,191,700 premises passed with headline subscriber net adds reaching a total of 38,000 compared to 23,000 in Q2 2020, along with 47,000 new broadband net adds (up from around 33,000 in the previous quarter) to their broadband base bringing the total to 5,365,400