• Veronica Speiser

Research Roundup March 2022

Updated: Jun 21

During March Point Topic published three publications covering the UK and global fixed line broadband markets. Key findings and overviews can be found below and on our free analysis section with detailed reports available via our UK Plus subscribers service, sign-in here to access our UK Plus content.

· Superfast and Ultrafast Broadband Premises Passed as End-Feb 2022

· Gigabit Broadband Affordability in the UK: a Postcode Lottery

· Broadband Tariff Benchmark Report, Q4 2021

Superfast and Ultrafast Broadband Premises Passed as End-Feb 2022

The analysis is based on the ThinkPoint broadband availability dataset which includes 1.7m postcodes[1]. At the end of February 2022, the total FTTP coverage including Openreach, KCOM, Virgin Media RFOG and independent fibre networks was 9.8 million premises (31% of the UK premises). Virgin Media O2 passed 49% of UK premises with their Docsis 3.1 based gigabit network. Of course, FTTP and Docsis 3.1 networks overlap in multiple areas.

As of February 2022, in 42% of all local authorities the total FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. However, this figure is down from the 48% we recorded in December 2021. In February 2022, the total FTTP coverage was 50% or higher in 13% of local authorities.


More granular, potscode level broadband availability updates by ISP and technology, are available to our ThinkPoint customers.


Figure 1 Premises passed by FTTP networks, by local authority (February, 2022
Figure 1 Premises passed by FTTP networks, by local authority (February, 2022









Figure 1 provides a breakdown by local authority of FTTP network coverage in February 2022.









Gigabit Broadband Affordability in the UK: a Postcode Lottery

Following our recent study of broadband affordability in the UK, today we are looking at the lowest available gigabit broadband tariffs across the UK. By gigabit we mean broadband services with 900-1000Mbps downstream speeds, provided over FTTP or Virgin Media’s Docsis3.1 networks.


For England and Wales, we conducted our analysis at the level of LSOA (Lower Layer Super Output Area), a geographical unit used by the ONS to report small area statistics. Each LSOA contains between 400 and 1,200 households. For Scotland, we used their small areas called Data Zones (DZ). These are small enough units at the right level of granularity to reflect the differences even within the same cities, towns and rural areas. There are currently around 42,000 small areas (LSOAs and DZs) in the UK.


For this analysis, we used residential broadband tariffs marketed by ISPs in February 2022. Broadband services with gigabit speeds and the lowest available monthly subscriptions that consumers could access in every LSOA were the basis of our comparison. A lot of these tariffs came with a minimum commitment – 12, 18 or 24 month contracts. We used the lowest tariffs available, even if that meant the longest fixed term contract.


As of February 2022, we found at least one gigabit tariff available in 89% of all UK LSOAs and DZs. The lowest available monthly cost of gigabit broadband across the UK varied from £25.00 (a 900/900Mbps service from Toob in Southampton) to £96.00 (a 1000/200Mbps service from Ecom in Buckinghamshire). Both services came with free installation.


Some ISPs additionally charge for installation and / or activation, although this is more typical of smaller ISPs and community projects, with an exception of Virgin Media and KCOM who also have set-up charges. Installation of broadband services tends to bear especially high cost in rural areas though some consumers can get the cost subsidised by the Government under the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.


Ten gigabit broadband services in our sample came with installation / activation charges which varied from £5.00 to £150, with the majority of ISPs waiving set-up costs for customers signing fixed term contracts.

Table 1. Lowest cost gigabit broadband providers and tariffs in different LSOAs and DZs (Feb 2022)
Table 1. Lowest cost gigabit broadband providers and tariffs in different LSOAs and DZs (Feb 2022) Calculated taking into account promotional offers

Broadband Tariff Benchmark Report, Q4 2021

In Q4 2021, the average monthly charge for residential fibre connections decreased by 9.9%, compared to Q4 2020. In the same period, the price of cable broadband increased by 1.2% while the average subscription to copper-based broadband services increased by 0.5%. Driven by the lower cost of fibre, over the 12 months to the end of December 2021 the average monthly charge for residential broadband services fell by 10.4% and stood at $82 PPP (purchasing power parity).


The average downstream bandwidth provided to residential subscribers has gone up by 32% in Q4 2021, compared to Q4 2020. The boost was caused by the increase in bandwidth provided over fibre and cable networks. In Q4 2021, the average download speeds over cable increased by 12.3%, as there were a proliferation of DOCSIS3.1 tariffs with gigabit speeds becoming available. In the same period, the average download speeds over fibre grew by 33.5%, compared to Q4 2020. We have recorded 397 residential gigabit tariffs (with downstream bandwidth of at least 900Mbps) in Q4 2021, compared to 367 in Q2 2021 and 335 in Q4 2020.

Figure 2 Average monthly cost and download bandwidth by technology, residential broadband.
Figure 2 Average monthly cost and download bandwidth by technology, residential broadband.

A significant jump in the average bandwidth of fibre based broadband tariffs have had the largest effect on the overall average broadband speeds in the business segment.


In Q4 2021, the combined average download bandwidth grew by 25.7% compared to Q4 2020 and stood at 362Mbps. This was caused by the boost in the average speed over cable and especially fibre, 14.3% and 21.8% respectively. Copper maintained largely the same average download speed compared to the previous quarter (Figure 3).


The average monthly cost of business broadband subscriptions decreased on copper and cable platforms, -9.2% and -2.4% respectively. With the significant increase in the average bandwidth in fibre broadband services came an 11.1% increase in the overall average cost of business broadband compared to Q4 2020


Figure 3 Average monthly cost and downstream bandwidth by technology, business broadband.
Figure 3 Average monthly cost and downstream bandwidth by technology, business broadband.

For further details head to our Free Analysis section.

 

News

News Round-Up

BT Group News

CityFibre (CF) News

Independent Operators (AltNets) News


Other key news items throughout the month can be found below

[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.

 

The data used in this report is taken from Point Topic’s UK Plus service that allows customers to receive comprehensive, accurate and regularly updated broadband market information to support strategic decision making.​


Please telephone +44 (0)20 3301 3303 or e-mail isabelle.anderson@point-topic.com for more details.

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