Research Round-up April 2023
Global fixed broadband subscriptions up to end-2022; Ultrafast UK sector updates; ISP news; government and Ofcom updates
Point Topic’s key publication of the month:
Global Broadband Subscriptions at end-2022: Fibre Claims Two Thirds
In 2022, the number of global fixed broadband connections grew by 6.65% and stood at 1.36bn. We recorded a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in twelve countrieswhich mainly include emerging markets, as well as a couple of mature markets in well developed countries.
Global fixed broadband subscriber growth was the second slowest in the last four quarters and stood at 1.43%.
The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 65.7%. Cable broadband connections followed with a 16.3% share, while ADSL fell to 8.8 and FTTx to 6.8%.
The highest FTTH/B broadband subscriber growth rates in Q4 2022 were in Germany, Peru, Argentina, India, and UK.
East Asia dominates the market with a 49.10% share of global fixed broadband subscribers, mainly due to China’s market size, and the region’s net adds share of 61.52% suggests it is still expanding (Figures 2 and 3). Other Asian regions hold a 10.82% market share, with a 13.79% net adds share, also indicating robust growth. Eastern Europe's market share is 5.26% with a 3.69% net adds share, while the other European regions have a 13.58% market share and a 4.17% net adds share. North America's market share is at 10.67%, with a net adds share of 4.23%. Other American regions (Latin America) have an 8.04% market share, but a notably higher net adds share of 9.50%, pointing to a faster growth rate in these less mature markets.
Africa's market share of fixed broadband subscribers stands at a modest 1.75%, and its net adds share is second lowest at 3.15%, indicating a modestly growing interest in fixed broadband services. Lastly, Oceania's market share is 0.77%, but with a negative net adds share of -0.05%, it is experiencing a decline in fixed broadband subscribers.
Compared to Q3 2022, East Asia and Asia Other have seen their net adds shares decrease by 3% and 1% respectively, as a result of Europe, Americas and Africa recording higher net adds this quarter. Overall, the data reveals a dynamic landscape for fixed broadband subscribers with still substantial growth in Asian regions and promising expansion in Latin American markets, especially Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.
The complete dataset of the fixed broadband take-up forecast to end-2022 by country and region is available to subscribers of our Global Broadband Statistics service.
BDUK Project Gigabit Update
On 11 April, BDUK announced that it had awarded Wessex Internet their second local contract (Lot 27.01) to cover 10,500 premises in the New Forest (Hampshire). The three year contract is worth nearly £14 million and Wessex Internet will be rolling out to communities around the New Forest including Brockenhurst, Burley, Beaulieu, Godshill, Hordle and Sway. Construction is due to commence by the end of this year with the first properties due to go live by February 2024.
On 12 April, Borderlink, trading as GoFibre, began construction on the £6.6m contract which awarded in autumn 2022. The rollout will cover 4,000 premises and will take place until 2025 with homes and businesses across Middleton-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle, Gainford, West Auckland and neighbouring communities able to access gigabit-capable broadband from as early as late September.
Other key telecoms sector news items from the month can be found below.
BT Group News
3 April – BT Group announced it is using its network to power UK-first drone medical delivery trial with Skyfarer; Following its recent investment in Altitude Angel, BT Group’s incubation arm, Etc. is creating partnerships to deliver transformational commercial drone operations. With its continued involvement in Project Skyway, the project that aims to build the world’s longest automated drone ‘superhighway’, BT Group has made no secret of its vision and ambitions when it comes to playing its part in the future of drones. 6 April – Plusnet announced that it will start offering Openreach’s full fibre 900 Mbps speed tier packages for £49.99 per month on a 24-months contract. The budget-ISP previously only offered the highest speed package of up to 500 Mbps. 11 April – OneWeb and BT confirmed for rural UK satellite broadband trial. 19 April – EE have extended their 4G coverage to 1,500 rural locations via the industry-led £1bn Shared Rural Network. 21 April – Openreach have re-opened their Fibre Community Partnerships programme for ‘disadvantaged’ (rural) communities, after putting the programme on hold in 2022 due to too much demand. 24 April – Openreach announced in its GEN027/23 notification to inform all CPs about an update for tranche 8 and also informs all CPs of the realignment of 44 exchanges from tranches 9, 10, 11, and TBD. 24 April – BT has secured a multi-million pound contract worth up to £350 million over the next six years to become the sole provider to deliver public sector connectivity across Scotland. The Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) contract, which has been awarded by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) on behalf of the Scottish Government, will accelerate the digital transformation of Scotland’s public sector including to some of the most rural areas across the country. 25 April – BT Group announced the launch of its virtual wards programme aimed at healthcare customers across the UK. The move is part of BT’s ambition to work together with the NHS to build smarter, safer, more efficient services for everyone. 26 April – BT Group has announced a new partnership with the charity AbilityNet to help improve the digital skills of 4,000 older and digitally excluded people across the UK in 2023. The partnership will run a UK-wide ‘Senior Skills Programme’ that will deliver more than 1,000 group and one-to-one training sessions to those who need it most in regions across the UK.
Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) News
6 April – Virgin Media O2 is giving new and existing O2 customers the opportunity to receive double mobile data, at no extra cost, for up to three months on Rolling Plans and Big Bundles. 17 April – Virgin Media O2 selects Mavenir for its Open RAN deployment. Mavenir’s Open vRAN solution is built from the ground up to be cloud-native, with fully containerised microservices allowing it to be deployed easily on any cloud. Mavenir’s Open vRAN O-RAN compliant solution works on open interfaces supporting O-RAN Split 7.2x and Split 2. 20 April – Virgin Media UK’s XGS-PON full fibre upgrade to go live later in 2023, which forms part of the provider’s Project Mustang plans to upgrade its FTTP, RFoG and HFC network by 2028 at a cost of c.£100 per home. The pilot trials which were carried out Stoke Salisbury, and Wakefield last year with 50k premises being covered. 26 April – Virgin Media O2 Business launched enhanced cloud and security solutions services following a new partnership with Telefónica Tech.
CityFibre (CF) News
3 April – CF announced that it has completed the primary-build of its full fibre network in Yaxley. The new network is an extension of CityFibre’s network in nearby Peterborough, bringing the total footprint in the area to over 70,000 homes and businesses. Construction began on the £2m project in June 2022 and the new network in Yaxley is now ready for service to almost 3,600 homes in the village, representing almost 90% of the residential properties.
Independent Operators (AltNets) News
3 April – Lit Fibre announced they have passed 100k premises on their roadmap to passing 500k by 2026. 3 April – Go Fibre announced it’s ready for service full fibre network has passed 12,600 premises in the Fife area including the towns of Cupar, Cardenden and Burntisland; it has also announced that it will be adding Newport-on-Tay and Tayport to their next locations for rollout. 5 April – Lothian Broadband completed a £20m senior debt raise arranged by Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) – taking total investment capacity up to £50m for 2023. 6 April – According to Companies House Agnar Infrastructure UK has now taken over Trooli, with the notification of Agnar UK Infrastructure Ltd as a person with significant control on 3 April 2023. 7 April – LetterOne, the sanctions hit and Russian-oligarch controlled investment firm behind Upp’s £1bn fibre network expansion, has launched a legal challenge to the UK government’s force of sale of the network provider due to national security concerns. The challenge will fall under the UK’s National Security and Investment Act which came into effect in January 2022 and has only been challenged four times, three of which by Chinese firms. 13 April – G.Network, in partnership with technology firm Xantaro and using Nokia’s latest equipment, has demonstrated how greater speed and capacity can be delivered to London’s businesses. The 25G test, carried out last month in central London demonstrated symmetrical speeds (both download and upload) more than double those currently delivered on the same full fibre network. 17 April – Wholesale provider MS3 Networks has announced another 22 expansion locations in Yorkshire, with 100k premises already having been passed. 18 April – You Fibre announced it has passed the 30,000th subscriber milestone, connected its first customer in Northern Ireland making it the first Altnet to be available in all four countries, and on 27 April released further expansion locations including Aylesbury, Coatbridge, Mansfield, Tunbridge Wells, and Wednesbury. 21 April – Truespeed announced they have connected 15k subscribers to its rural network up from 13k in February 2023. 26 April – Netomnia announced further rollout locations including the Balmoral area of Belfast, Baldock, Bishop Auckland, Castleford, Didcot, Hoddesdon, Hitchin, Letchworth, Macclesfield and Stevenage. 25 April – Freedom Fibre add three more rollout locations to full fibre build plan, Bromborough, Ellesmere Port, and Hooton. 27 April – Job losses strike UK full fibre ISP Lightspeed Broadband as build slows.
3 April – Ofcom investigates broadband providers for failing to implement simpler switching, or the One Touch Switch process which deadline was April 2023 to introduce the system industry-wide. 5 April – Ofcom is at the halfway point of its probe into UK cloud services, Ofcom is proposing to refer the market to the Competition and Markets Authority for further investigation. The market study has provisionally identified features and practices that make it more difficult for customers to switch and use multiple cloud suppliers. Ofcom are particularly concerned about the practices of Amazon and Microsoft because of their market position. 5 April – The National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) - a digital map of underground pipes and cables that will revolutionise the way we install, maintain, operate and repair our buried infrastructure - can now be accessed in its first UK locations. The service is starting to deliver the core functionality to meet the intended ‘safe dig’ use case, as well as data from over 80 asset owners in the first 3 regions (North East England, Wales and London). This includes all of the major energy and water providers, as well as smaller providers of these services, telecommunications companies, transport organisations and local authorities. 7 April – ISPReview published their Top 30 UK Full Fibre Providers by Share of New Build Homes – 2022-23 report. 11 April – Department for Science, Innovation & Technology published UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy policy paper, covering up to 2030 strategies and ambitions. 12 April – According to Thinkbroadband data UK now has 50% of homes passed with fibre to the premises. 24 April – More than half of low-income households are in the dark about bargain broadband deals that could save them around £200 a year, with just 5% of eligible households signed up to a discounted package. However, despite take-up of social tariffs quadrupling since January 2022, Ofcom’s research shows that just 220,000 (5.1%) are now signed up to these deals, which could slice the annual cost of broadband in half. 27 April – Most complained-about telecoms and pay-TV providers revealed in Ofcom’s latest report from Q4 2022, Shell Energy continued to be the most complained-about landline and broadband provider, attracting more complaints about its service than in the previous quarter (July to September 2022). Customer complaints were mainly about faults, service and getting services installed.
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 It is possible there will be restatements in the coming quarter/s and single period data should be viewed in that light.