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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Speiser

Annual INCA / Point Topic Altnet Sector Report


Altnets full fibre networks covered 35% of the UK, as well as 32% of Area 3 premises at the end of 2023, connections increased by 33% year-on-year to reach 2 million, and investment and expenditure within the sector is expected to reach £25 billion by 2028.


Produced in partnership with Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), the 'Metrics for the UK Independent Network Sector' report, sets out a series of key figures which illustrate the continuing growth and successes of the sector, alongside some of the central concerns occupying the minds of Altnet leaders over the last year.

The report covers the state of play with respect to premises passed, customers connected, the current state of investment into the Altnet sector and the expectations and aspirations of Altnet operators.

Key points

  • At the end of 2023, 2 million customers across the country were connected to Altnet fibre.

  • The collective Altnet footprint (premises passed) reached 12.9 million premises, or 35% of all UK premises.

  • The expectation is that this figure will reach 16.7 million by the end of 2024, with 3 million live connections anticipated.

  • More than half of premises in London can now get a fibre connection from at least one Altnet, with other regions – including Yorkshire & The Humber, and the South East following very closely behind.

  • Nearly 7 million UK premises which have access to a fibre connection can only get that fibre from an Altnet currently.

  • Despite Ofcom's assertion that premises in some parts of the country (known 'Area 3') would be unlikely to be served by any operator other than Openreach, Altnets have deployed their fibre past 3 million Area 3 premises, approximately 32% – or nearly one third – of all Area 3 premises.

  • Our analysis shows that Altnet fibre will pass around 4.5 million premises – 46% of Area 3 – by the end of 2025. In comparison, Openreach fibre passed 3.7 million Area 3  premises (39%). Again, this highlights the ambition and capability of the highly resilient Altnet operators.

  • Independent review sites like Trustpilot and Google Reviews consistently show that consumers rate Altnet providers much more highly than the mainstream national retailers, as highlighted in our 2023 report 'Securing long term benefits for broadband customers'.

  • In terms of investment, new capital continued to flow into the sector over 2023 despite adverse conditions, with an estimated £7 billion committed over the year.

Figure 1.  Altnets UK fixed network nationwide coverage areas and  Altnet coverage in Ofcom’s Area 3 (harder to reach rural) areas, end 2023.
Figure 1. Altnets UK fixed network nationwide coverage areas and Altnet coverage in Ofcom’s Area 3 (harder to reach rural) areas, end 2023.

“We are very pleased to contribute to this important work.  The independent network sector has moved quickly and has been deploying across the UK including some of the most challenging areas”, said Point Topic’s Senior Analyst Veronica Speiser. “They are supplying residential and business consumers robust, affordable, and future-proofed technology whilst providing the UK with a highly competitive market.  The sector continued to perform well in the face of significant headwinds in the UK.  Take-up, in particular, looks strong across a mix of geographic markets with future growth for the Altnets looking cautiously optimistic as networks start to reach maturity.”

The 2024 ‘Metrics for the UK independent network sector’ report has been produced in partnership between INCA and broadband market intelligence specialists Point Topic, drawing on input from both INCA members and non-members. It provides an overview of the UK’s independent network operator sector as of end-2023 and early 2024 in terms of scale, coverage, ambitions, and concerns.

The full report along with the report summary can be found below.

State of the Altnets 2024 Summary Infographic
Download PDF • 1.61MB

Metrics for the Independent Network Sector 2024
Download PDF • 4.94MB


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