Broadband availability in the UK at end-2022
More than 2m premises can choose between 2 or more FTTP altnets
This is our bi-monthly update on broadband infrastructure deployments in the UK, tracking the progress since our latest update for October 2022. We also look at key trends in the availability of ultrafast broadband in the last 12 months. The analysis is based on the ThinkPoint broadband availability dataset which includes 1.7m postcodes. More granular, postcode level broadband availability updates by ISP and technology, are available to our ThinkPoint customers. To find out more you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
As of the end of 2022, the overall FTTP coverage was almost 14m premises (43% of the UK total). This metric was up from 9m (29%) at end-2021.
The largest number of FTTP premises added during 2022 was in Sheffield (+87,709), while the largest growth in percentage of FTTP premises was in Broxtowe (+57.4%).
Among independent fibre networks (altnets) with at least 50K premises passed, Brsk had the highest annual growth, from just 1K premises at end-2021 to 100K at end-2022. CityFibre, Toob, Jurassic Fibre and Fibrus also more than doubled their fibre networks during 2022.
At end-2022, 134 local authorities (LAs) had two independent fibre providers overlapping, up from 125 two months earlier. Dundee City joined the league of the top LAs in this category, with two fibre providers covering 40K premises in the LA.
Across the UK, more than 1.3m premises could choose between at least three independent fibre ISPs. More than 2m premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers.
Despite significant progress, 28% of UK premises still did not have access to gigabit capable broadband, with this figure highest in Wales at 45%.
Openreach and FTTP in general
In two months to the end of December 2022, we recorded a similar pace in the Openreach full fibre rollout, compared to the previous two months. We found 442,000 additional FTTP premises, which resulted in our total recorded FTTP footprint of 8.6 million premises (27% of all UK premises). The number of Openreach ADSL, FTTC only and Gfast only premises continued to decline, with the focus staying on FTTP deployment, aimed at covering 25 million premises by the end of 2026. To achieve this goal, Openreach would need to cover around 5.3m premises a year between now and the target date. We recorded 2.9m new FTTP premises passed by the operator during 2022. In that period, we saw the largest decline in their FTTC only premises, at -2.3m, with the number of total non-FTTP premises dropping by -2.6m.
In terms of the percentage of total premises passed by Openreach FTTP, cities, towns and regions outside London and the South East dominate, with Northern Ireland especially well covered. Belfast continues to be at the top of the list with 93% of premises passed by Openreach FTTP.
During 2022, Openreach added most FTTP premises in the North of England, with Sheffield, Leeds and Wakefield taking the top three spots by this measure.
As of the end of 2022, the overall FTTP coverage, including Openreach FTTP network, independent fibre networks (altnets), Virgin Media O2’s RFOG network and KCOM was almost 13.7m premises (43.2% of the UK total). This metric was up from 9.2m (29.1%) at end-2021.
Table 3 lists top and bottom ten UK local authorities (LAs) by FTTP coverage in this period. Among the top ten LAs, Coventry saw the largest progress in terms of new FTTP premises added in 12 months (+14,688), while the largest growth in percentage of premises passed was in Derry City and Strabane (+11.9%). Among all LAs, the largest number of FTTP premises added was in Sheffield (+87,709), and the largest percentage growth was in Broxtowe (+57.4%).
The bottom ten LAs saw modest growth of between 0.5% and 2.5%. Most of them are not attractive targets for fibre investment, as they are either rural or remote, or both. On the other hand, these figures do not include Virgin Media O2’s Docsis 3.1 network coverage, which is widely available in some of these LAs such as Woking, for example.
* Including Openreach, KCOM, independent networks and Virgin Media O2’s RFOG.
In three years to end-2022, the number of FTTP premises passed in the UK has increased by 318% (from 3.3m to 13.7m), albeit the quarterly growth rate has slowed down from 16% in Q1 2020 to 9% in Q4 2022.
As of December 2022, in 19.4% of UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. This figure was down from the 47.7% of LAs a year earlier. The FTTP coverage was 50% or higher in 31.3% of local authorities, up from 11.9% of LAs twelve months earlier.
During 2022, some local authorities saw growth as high as 40-50% in percentage of their premises passed with FTTP networks. High growth areas are well spread out across the UK. Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire, however, topped the charts with +57.4% growth and 73.5% of the premises in the borough covered by FTTP at the end of 2022.
Note: No time series data is available for North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire due to restructuring of these LAs during the comparison period.
Virgin Media O2 footprint upgrades
Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) had already announced the completion of its gigabit broadband rollout, hence we found only 27K additional VMO2 gigabit premises between the end of October 2022 and the end of December 2022. Compared to December 2021, the number of such premises has increased by 285K.
With 1.2 million RFOG premises passed, VMO2 are the third largest FTTP network operator in the UK after Openreach and CityFibre. Between end-2021 and end-2022, the company added a quarter of a million RFOG premises.
As of December 2022, VMO2’s gigabit network was present in 307 out of 374 local authorities and covered 49.5% of the total UK premises. Significant parts of the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Scotland and Wales (17.9% of LAs across the UK) had no VMO2 gigabit coverage. VMO2’s gigabit footprint grew in several stages, more than doubling between June 2021 and December 2021.
Independent fibre providers
The independent fibre network operators are progressing at speed with full fibre rollouts. As of the end of December 2022, our figures showed CityFibre at the top with 2m FTTP premises covered by their network. Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen remained the largest retail providers using CityFibre network.
Hyperoptic and Community Fibre passed 0.8m premises each with their FTTP networks. GNetwork followed with just over 0.4m and Gigaclear with 0.3m. Among providers with at least 50K premises passed, we recorded the highest annual growth for Brsk, who have expanded their footprint from just 1K recorded at end-2021 to 100K at end-2022. In the same period, a small independent fibre provider Zzoomm extended their FTTP network from 9K to 66K. (Both networks are excluded from the below chart as outliers). CityFibre, Toob, Jurassic Fibre and Fibrus also more than doubled their networks during 2022.
Network overlap by independent fibre providers has increased further. (We are now including in this category independent network operators as well as retail ISPs using their networks. For example, multiple ISPs are selling fibre broadband supplied by the CityFibre network.)
In December 2022, 78 local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent fibre providers, up from 69 LAs two months earlier. Coventry, Peterborough and Milton Keynes led the way in terms of the percentage of premises covered by three FTTP providers, with 78%, 76% and 73% respectively. Coventry was top of the list by the number of premises passed with 120K. Glasgow and Leeds saw the largest number of new FTTP premises covered by three providers in the last two months of 2022, with +12K and +11K respectively.
Across the UK, more than 1m premises in 46,500 postcodes could choose between three independent fibre ISPs. These figures were up from 925K premises and 42,000 postcodes we recorded in October 2022.
At end-2022, another 134 local authorities had two independent fibre providers overlapping, up from 125 two months earlier. Dundee City joined the league of the top LAs with two fibre providers covering 40K premises. Between October and December 2022, Bolton, Wolverhampton and Ipswich had the next largest gains of new FTTP premises from two providers overlapping, at +15K, +11K and +10K respectively (among LAs with more than 10K premises passed by two providers).
In total, 758K premises were passed by two independent fibre providers at the end of December 2022, up from 600K two months earlier.
Overall more than 2m UK premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers in December 2022, compared to 1.75m in October 2022. In total, independent fibre providers passed 5.8 million premises, having added half a million premises in the last two months of 2022.
The trend of the growing number of postcodes served by several fibre providers will continue for a while but in the next few years the industry will inevitably see consolidation. This has already begun, with investment firm Fern Trading announcing plans in February 2023 to consolidate several fibre providers they own into a single entity. These include Giganet, Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre and AllPoints Fibre.
Despite significant progress, 28% of UK premises still did not have access to gigabit capable broadband (either the Virgin Media O2 gigabit network or an FTTP network) at the end of 2022. This metric was 45% in Wales and 36% in Scotland. In England it was 27%, while Northern Ireland was the least ‘gigabit deficient’ with 13% of premises not passed by a gigabit network. Compared to October 2022, these percentages went down by 1% in England and Scotland and by 2% in Wales.
Local authorities in remote and rural areas still lack access to gigabit broadband, with Isles of Scilly at the top of the list in terms of percentage of premises not covered (98%) and Cornwall by the number of premises not passed by gigabit capable networks (163K).
The complete dataset used to produce this analysis is part of our ThinkPoint service which involves UK Broadband Mapping at postcode level. For more information check our UK Mapping page.
To find out more you can contact us on 020 3301 3303 or e-mail email@example.com
 There will generally be a lag to the operator announcements for premises passed at the time since it takes us time to properly track and audit any new deployments, unless the operators tell us about them.  The footprint reported by CityFibre is 2.5 million premises passed, including 2.2 m that are ready for service. See the earlier footnote about our lag behind operator announcements.  https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2023/02/fern-consolidates-uk-isps-jurassic-fibre-swish-fibre-giganet-and-allpoints-fibre.html