Superfast UK Clears Two Million Subscriber Hurdle

August 8, 2012   |   Oliver Johnson

Point Topic reveals plain DSL starts to decline

Leading broadband analyst firm Point Topic today reveals that at the start of July 2012 there were more than two million superfast subscriptions country wide, and that today 10% of the UK’s fixed lines can be classified as ‘superfast’.

The latest data has revealed the strength of the UK superfast market offering downstream bandwidth of over 25Mbps.

“As Virgin and BT continue to grow their superfast subscriber numbers they are being joined by other players. From traditional giants like Sky to the smaller alternative networks, the superfast technologies are on the way to supremacy in the UK market,” says Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic.

This is not the only milestone from this quarter’s data. Plain DSL, which has dominated the statistics over the last decade, is now starting to drop in number. In line with Point Topic’s forecasts over the last five years the first half of 2012 saw the tipping point where DSL, for the first time, started to lose subscribers overall.

“Copper isn’t finished, it’s still an important part of the UK’s broadband strategy, but the days of sub-superfast are numbered. Super high-bandwidth options whether delivered over co-axial cable by Virgin Media or over an hybrid copper/fibre network by other players are now where the consumer sees the future,” says Johnson.

There’s a long way to go, there are still more than 16.3 million subscribers to standard bandwidth products and they won’t all be persuaded to upgrade their connections anytime soon.

Point Topic’s data shows that the UK now has 21.3 million fixed broadband lines. Up only 175,000 in the quarter to end June, a disappointing number when compared to historical growth. There were however over 600,000 new superfast subscribers compared to the previous quarter, a significant improvement.

Johnson adds: “Virgin Media is responsible for the majority of these superfast gains. They have been upgrading and upselling their customer base very successfully over the last 18 months. BT is now joining the party with 150 thousand new superfast customers in the quarter, their best yet, and their network is now being used by other players like Sky and TalkTalk to add to the number of high-bandwidth customers in the UK.”

Superfast is one of the cornerstones of the UK and Europe’s digital plans. Stated objectives are for the whole of Europe to have superfast available for 100% of consumers by 2020 and for the UK’s government’s ambition to have the ‘best broadband in Europe’ by 2015 high-bandwidth is a necessity.

“There are parts of the UK today that are on a par with the most complete coverage available anywhere in the world. Challenges remain though. How will we reach the millions still without any broadband at all? Where are the plans for measuring the UK against the rest of Europe and the world? And how are we going to make high-speed internet access affordable for all? Until we can answer all of these satisfactorily we won’t be parading a gold medal for broadband any time soon,” concluded Johnson.

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