• Veronica Speiser

Research Round-up October 2022

Ultrafast UK sector updates, Global broadband subscribers metrics Q2 22, Project Gigabit progress, ISP news, government and Ofcom updates


Point Topic’s key publications of the month:


Ultrafast Broadband Premises Passed in the UK end-August 2022

Point Topic’s latest update since April 2022, with the analysis based on the ThinkPoint broadband availability dataset which includes 1.7m postcodes.[1]

Summary of key findings:

At the close of August 2022,

  • FTTP network coverage reached 38% of UK premises; 30% of premises did not have access to gigabit capable broadband. This figure was 48% in Wales and 48% in Scotland.

  • Across the UK, around 1.6m premises had access to two or more independent fibre ISPs and more than 800K premises could choose between three, with Peterborough being top of the charts in this category.

  • Gigabit broadband adoption rate varied between 3% and 55% among various ISPs.

  • In 27% of local authorities the FTTP coverage was lower than 20% of premises. It was 50% or higher in 23% of local authorities (Figure 1).

  • We found 851,000 additional FTTP Openreach premises in the four months to the end of August 2022, which equates to our total Openreach FTTP network coverage of 7.8 million premises (24% of all UK premises).

  • We found only 108k additional VMO2 gigabit premises between the end of April 2022 and August 2022 on top of their 16m premises already covered; with just over a million RFOG premises passed, VMO2 are the third largest FTTP network operator in the UK after Openreach and CityFibre.

  • Independent providers have continued their rollouts at pace, CityFibre leads the way with 1.5m FTTP premises covered by end-August 2022[2]; Hyperoptic followed with over 0.7m premises passed, closely followed by Community Fibre with almost 0.7m; Gigaclear and Netomnia (YouFibre) are approaching 0.25m premises.



Figure 1. Premises passed by FTTP networks, by local authority (August 2022). Source: Point Topic
Figure 1. Premises passed by FTTP networks, by local authority (August 2022). Source: Point Topic


Gigabit-capable UK: transformation through regulation and reform

Since our last report published in October 2021, the UK’s telecoms sector has seen significant progress in terms of nationwide gigabit-capable fixed broadband coverage. According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s (DCMS) latest Project Gigabit update report, published on 30 August 2022, nationwide gigabit-bit capable broadband coverage has increased from 42% to nearly 70% coverage year-on-year at the close of August.[3] However, this coverage is certainly not uniform throughout UK, especially in terms of rural versus urban network footprints along with full fibre access in the devolved nations, such as Scotland and Wales, where rural rollouts have proved more difficult.


Commercial rollout of gigabit capable broadband is expected to cover 80% of the UK by 2025, with BDUK focusing on subsidising the final 20%, predominately in rural or hard to reach areas. Several new legislative initiatives have been introduced over the past year to propel the rollout of a nationwide gigabit-capable digital infrastructure. Additionally, telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has also introduced key regulations to protect the consumer, promote competition within a highly saturated broadband supplier market, and support the government’s legislations.


Key Policy, Regulatory and Public Sector Updates October 2021 – October 2022:

      Figure 2: Summary of Ofcom’s Proposed Future Spectrum Projects. Source: Ofcom, Spectrum Roadmap: Delivering Ofcom’s Spectrum Management Strategy, p. 5.
Figure 2: Summary of Ofcom’s Proposed Future Spectrum Projects. Source: Ofcom, Spectrum Roadmap: Delivering Ofcom’s Spectrum Management Strategy, p. 5.

Global Broadband Subscribers Q2 2022

The global fixed broadband subscriber growth was lowest in the last six quarters as the world faces economic slowdown.


By the end of Q2 2022, the number of global fixed broadband connections grew by 1.34% and stood at 1.32bn. The growth rates varied across different markets, with 13 countries reporting a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions.[4] We recorded the churn mainly in the emerging markets, where mobile networks are the dominant platform for accessing the internet.


Main trends in Q2 2022:

  • Fixed broadband subscriber numbers fell in 10% of the 129 countries covered in this report (Figure 4).

  • The share of FTTH in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 59.1%. Superfast and ultrafast cable broadband connections followed with a 16.8% share, while ADSL fell to 9.6%.

  • In 12 months between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022, the number of copper lines fell by 9.5%, while FTTH connections increased by 13.1%.

  • China added 12 million fibre broadband subscriptions in Q2 2022, with Brazil, India and France adding almost 1 million each.

Figure 4. Global broadband subscribers and quarterly growth rates. Source – Point Topic.
Figure 4. Global broadband subscribers and quarterly growth rates. Source – Point Topic.

BDUK Project Gigabit Updates

On 20 October BDUK awarded local AltNet provider, that it had awarded local supplier, GoFibre, whose parent company is Borderlink Broadband, the Lot 34.01 North Northumberland contract. The £7.3m project will cover around 3,750 premises in the area.

The project will cover towns, villages and hamlets across the area including premises near to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Wooler, subject to further survey completion. The contract has been signed and planning is now underway, with construction due to begin in Spring 2023.


On 5 October BDUK closed the Public Reviews process for the following Project Gigabit intervention areas: Herefordshire (Lot 15), Cheshire (Lot 17), Gloucestershire (Lot 18), and Lincolnshire (including NE Lincolnshire and N Lincolnshire) and East Riding (Lot 23).


On 7 October it published its next batch of Public Reviews for the following areas with the consultation period closing on 4 November: Birmingham and the Black Country (Lot 35), Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (Lot 32), Devon and Somerset (Lot 6), Dorset (Lot 14), Essex (Lot 21), Greater London (Lot 37), Merseyside and Greater Manchester (Lot 36), Newcastle and North Tyneside (Lot 38), Northern North Yorkshire (Lot 31).


For the first time, BDUK have introduced urban areas into the Public Reviews programme with London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, and Newcastle having areas identified as requiring intervention. However, the extent of the intervention programmes are yet to be determined and may also come into conflict with how Ofcom define ‘rural’ areas. The Open Market Reviews identified a possible 1.7m London premises that would not be covered by gigabit capable broadband, followed by 570k in Merseyside and Greater Manchester, 208k in Birmingham, and just over 71k in Newcastle.


Other key telecoms sector news items from the month can be found below.

BT Group News

Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) News

CityFibre (CF) News

Independent Operators (AltNets) News

Other News

[1]There will be generally 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. [2]CityFibre themselves reported 1.7m RFS premises in August 2022. See the earlier footnote about our lag behind operator announcements. [3]DCMS, Policy Paper: Project Gigabit Delivery Plan - summer update 2022, 30 August 2022. [4]It is possible there will be restatements in the coming quarter/s and single period data should be viewed in that light.

 

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