Research Round-up May 2023
INCA and Point Topic's Annual Metrics for the UK Independent Network Sector Report 2023; UK network coverage - 2.5m premises can choose between 2 or more independent fibre ISPs; Q1 2023 UK retail ISP and network operators market analysis; Global Broadband Tariff Benchmark Report, Q4 2022; UK telecoms sector updates; ISP news; government and Ofcom updates
Point Topic’s key publications of the month:
INCA/PT Annual UK Independent Network Sector Report 2023
Altnets full fibre networks covered 25% of the UK, as well as 25% of the UK’s harder-to-reach rural areas at the end of 2022 (Figure 1), connections increased by 48% year-on-year to reach over 1.5m, and investment and expenditure within the sector are expected to reach £24bn by 2030.
Altnet operators had passed 8.2 million premises with fibre by the end of 2022. This is approximately 25% of UK premises
2.3 million of these premises were in Area 3, meaning that Altnets have delivered full-fibre connectivity to a quarter of UK premises in hard-to-reach areas
There are 1.5 million live connections (48% growth year-on-year) to independent fixed networks provided by full fibre gigabit-capable connections
Combined Altnet full fibre network footprints covering cities, towns, and villages across the UK now rival that of Openreach’s 10 million premises (Figure 2)
Investment and expenditure in the independent network sector continued throughout 2022 with an estimated additional £6 billion having been committed to network expansions and operations during the year
Estimated planned CAPEX spend by Altnets until the end of 2030 at over £24.2 billion is higher than that of BT Group’s (Openreach) £15 billion and Nexfibre’s (a joint venture between Liberty Global, Telefónica and InfraVia Capital Partners) £4.5 billion combined.
UK premises passed in Q1 2023: 2.5m can choose between 2 or more independent fibre ISPs
Tracking the progress between the end of December 2022 and the end of March 2023, 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.
The FTTP coverage was 50% or higher in 39% of local authorities (LAs), up from 31% of LAs three months earlier.
During Q1 2023, 29 local authorities saw 10%+ growth in the percentage of their premises passed with FTTP networks. East Renfrewshire, Staffordshire Moorlands and East Dunbartonshire, topped the charts with +19.4%, +17.6% and +16.8% increase in premises covered by FTTP.
Across the UK, more than 1.6m premises could choose between three independent fibre ISPs. These figures were up from 1m premises we recorded in December 2022.
Bournemouth, Aberdeen and West Northamptonshire saw the largest number of new FTTP premises passed by three providers.
Across the UK, 2.5m premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers at the end of March 2023, compared to 2.1m in December 2022.
Read our free analysis piece here and 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.
BDUK Project Gigabit Update
On 10 May, BDUK announced that it had awarded Freedom Fibre Phase 1b’s Lot 25.02 Shropshire contract. The three-year contract is worth £24 million with construction due to commence in February 2024 with properties expected to be ready for service by October 2024. Build locations include North Shropshire including Cockshutt, Hinstock, High Ercall, Bomere Heath, Hadnall, Cheswardine and Clive and ultimately aims to cover around 12,200 premises.
On 30 and 31 May, BDUK published its findings for two Public Reviews – Lot 12 Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes and Lot 14 Dorset and South Somerset.
For Lot 12, BDUK identified 75,278 Gigabit White Premises (where no commercial rollout is likely to take place over the next three years). The regional supplier procurement stage took place between January – February 2023 with the formal award of the contract being announced between October – December 2023. BDUK identified 19,681 Gigabit White premises in Lot 14, with the procurement stage for regional suppliers having begun in May and the contract due to be awarded between January – March 2024.
Other key telecom sector news items from the month can be found below.
BT Group News
2 May – April 2023 BT progress update on 10 Mbps UK broadband USO published.
2 May – Openreach announced latest Full Fibre rollout plans including 10 new locations nationwide and aims to pass 124k premises; overall more than 2,800 towns, cities, boroughs, villages and hamlets are now included in the company’s build programme.
3 May – Openreach adds Morriston in Wales to its FTTP rollout plans with 16,500 premises to be passed.
4 May – Luton gets added to Openreach’s build plans with 40k premises expected to be covered by the rollout.
4 May – BT and Five9 expand partnership to accelerate cloud adoption for contact centres globally.
8 May – Openreach begins its FTTP build in Falkirk with further extension plans to cover Grangemouth, Stenhousemuir, Shieldhill and Larbert in the future.
9 May – Cheriton added to FTTP build locations with around 4k premises expected to be covered.
11 May – BT launches new secure networking service for UK business customers with Fortinet.
18 May – BT published full year and Q1 2023 trading results.
22 May – Openreach commences build in Bishopbriggs, adding to the 15,000 throughout East Dunbartonshire that can already upgrade to the new Openreach network.
30 May – Openreach announced commencement of FTTP network rollout to the island of Lismore, through the Scottish Government’s £600m Reaching 100% (R100) programme.
31 May – Openreach announced in its GEN032/23 notification to inform all CPs of stop-sell notices in 119 exchanges in tranche 12.
Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) News
2 May – Virgin Media O2 announced changes to its Executive Committee - Ulrik Bengtsson, former William Hill CEO, joins company as Chief Operating Officer Rob Evans, MD for Fixed Network Expansion, has taken the decision to leave the business for health reasons with Julie Agnew appointed to take this role.
5 May – Virgin Media O2 announced Flex tariff for small business customers where customers can adjust their broadband package once every 30 days based on their usage needs.
10 May – VMO2 published Q1 2023 trading results and have changed its reporting style from “Homes Passed” to “Serviceable”, which now covers those premises covered by operators with which it has service agreements with e.g. nexfibre, and added 107,800 full fibre premises to its coverage, mainly for nexfibre.
15 May – Virgin Media O2’s Shared Rural Network rollout reaches 50th site in connectivity boost for rural communities.
23 May – Virgin Media O2 announced upload speed upgrade for new and existing customers who take M500 or Gig1 broadband packages with upgraded speeds of 52 Mbps and 104 Mbps at no extra cost.
CityFibre (CF) News
Independent Operators (Altnets) News
1 May – Gigaclear announced the connection of its 75,000th customer in April.
1 May – The Telegraph reported that Zzzoomm has begun the 45-day consultancy procedure in a bid to reduce its construction team staff by 50% in a bid to reduce costs an keep its investors content.
4 May – FACTCO signed FTTP reselling agreement with FullFibre Ltd.
4 May – Gigaloch secured undisclosed amount from investment bank Axxeltrova to expand rural, very hard to reach areas in Scotland and now aims to pass 200k premises.
5 May – Newcomer X-Fibre prepare FTTP build in Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire.
9 May – Community Fibre spotted expanding FTTP outside of London.
9 May – Fibrus announced 40 further FTTP deployment locations in the NE England and toward the end of the month confirmed that the first homes have been connected as part of the new £108m gigabit-capable broadband scheme to improve connectivity in rural Cumbria.
9 May – Truespeed named 5 further rollout locations in the SW England including Beckington, Frome, Faulkland, Norton St Philips and Trowbridge which will cover 21k premises.
10 May – Troubled ISP ZYBRE (Air Broadband) notified subscribers who are specifically served by CityFibre’s network that it will be migrating them to Octaplus as ZYBRE confirmed it had reached an agreement with the latter.
10 May – London-based provider G.Network, whose full fibre network covers around 400k and was backed by £1bn in investment in late 2021, has notified employees of future redundancies with possibly up to 200 jobs to go in the near future.
13 May – Country Connect expands full fibre cover to 3,709 premises.
17 May – F&W Networks announced it has passed more than 335k premises.
18 May – Welsh Altnet, Ogi, announced it is due to extend its FTTP network to further locations in Bridgend county.
23 May – 4th Utility received £25m backing from Dutch bank NIBC Bank N.V. to further extend FTTP rollout.
31 May – Broadway Partners (supported by sibling company Broadway Broadband) calls in the administrators after around 20% of £145m investment from Downing LLP is invested in fibre rollout plan to cover 250k rural premises by 2028.
3 May – First of 120 Planned UK Gov funded 4G mast upgrades goes live in Scotland.
5 May – Virgin Media O2, Starlink and Wavemobile trial Brings 4G to remote Wales.
11 May – The Welsh Government hints at £70m broadband upgrade for 84k premises.
15 May – The Shropshire Council in England has confirmed the completion of their final contract under the £36m (state aid) “Superfast Broadband” (30Mbps+) rollout programme, which over the last 10 years has signed deals with various operators (e.g. Openreach, Airband) and extended coverage from 24% to 98.5% of premises.
18 May – Ofcom published its Numbers up: Best and worst telecoms customer service league tables report.
19 May – Ofcom published its Connected Nations Spring Update report, with more than 14m homes benefitting from better broadband due to full fibre rollouts.
22 May – The Government considers cutting free WiFi access on trains in the future to help pay for the train service itself.
24 May – Ofcom published its decision not to prevent Openreach from introducing its new pricing offer for full-fibre broadband, known as ‘Equinox 2’.
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