Research Roundup May
UK’s TV Market Past, Present and Future, Fixed Broadband Subscribers in Q4 2021: FTTH/B claiming 62% of the global total, Superfast and ultrafast broadband UK premises passed as of end-Apr 2022, plus ISP, government, and Ofcom updates.
In March 2022, Point Topic and Netgem commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey on video, ISPs and what channels people were watching. The report, published on 9 May, revealed that the digital TV landscape has shifted significantly toward online channels, but the market is congested with choice and can result in a fragmented experience for the user. Streamlining of services will result in a changing landscape for the streaming giants, as consumers seek out curated services available via their ISPs. Whereas a wide range of choice was considered a selling point in recent years, consolidation of affordable content services will be the step-change in the marketplace in the near future.
On 19 May Point Topic released their global fixed broadband connections analysis for Q4 2021. The number of global fixed broadband connections grew by 1.5% and stood at 1.27bn (Figure 1). The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 62.5 per cent. Superfast and ultrafast cable broadband connections followed with an 18% share. Between Q4 2021 and Q4 2020, the number of copper lines fell by 10.9%, while FTTH/FTTB connections increased by 13.6 per cent. The highest FTTH/B broadband growth rates were mainly in developing markets, with the UK, France, Italy and Germany also reporting significant quarterly growth.
Point Topic released on 27 May, their bi-monthly update on superfast and ultrafast broadband deployments in the UK as of the end-April 2022. In 34% of all UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises (Figure 2). It was 50% or higher in 17% of local authorities. Just over 200,000 premises had access to two or more independent fibre networks. In total, independent FTTP networks passed 3.8 million premises. Fourteen local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent fibre network operators, while 109 local authorities had two independent fibre networks intersecting. At the end of April 2022, the total FTTP coverage including Openreach, KCOM, Virgin Media RFOG and independent fibre networks was 10.8 million premises (34% of the UK premises). Virgin Media O2 passed 49% of UK premises with their gigabit network. Of course, FTTP and VMO2’s Docsis 3.1 gigabit networks overlap in multiple areas.
Other Key Players Announcements
All major ISP providers released their quarterly key performance indicators and financial results for the quarter ending on 31 March 2022. Point Topic has provided a detailed statistical analysis of the results which can be found here.
BT Group saw a reduction in broadband net adds during the quarter with a loss of 27k combined consumer and enterprise connections, whilst Virgin Media O2 saw a net loss of 8,100 fixed line relationships (of which 1,000 were broadband). The latest figures are significantly down on the previous quarter’s healthy performances by BT and Virgin who had 44k and 60,400 broadband net adds respectively. The quarterly performance is unsurprising given the cost-of-living crisis and consumers generally being more budget conscious, resulting in stronger performances for more affordable suppliers such as TalkTalk and Vodafone.
Gains for the non-incumbent larger players have started to rise. Vodafone had its strongest quarter throughout the year with 59k broadband net additions, compared with 29k the previous quarter. It ended Q1 2022 with 1.05m subscribers. The operator saw a total of 139k fixed broadband net additions throughout the year in total.
Openreach’s full fibre rollout footprint covered 7.194 million homes and businesses, passing around 2.6 million premises passed year-on-year. Their rural build is also progressing well with 2.25 million premises passed. BT Openreach’s 'Fibre First' FTTP build programme rollout continued to accelerate, reaching record levels in the first quarter, building at an average run-rate of 58k premises passed per week and 752k throughout the quarter. Openreach reported 1.771 million connections compared with 1.508 million in Q4 2021 (Figure 3).
Thinkbroadband reported on 17 May that CityFibre had the second largest full fibre network coverage in the UK, overtaking VMO2. According to Thinkbroadband the footprint for, ‘CityFibre (all retailers) was at 1,083,888 premises versus a Virgin Media RFOG/FTTP footprint of 1,076,721 premises.’ As CityFibre move up the ranks in terms of FTTP infrastructure providers they are moving into the realms of a true national network.
AltNet operators continue to increase their network size and presence. Community Fibre announced on 3 May that its live network had passed 500k homes and 116k businesses in London. Shortly after on 10 May, the ISP announced that it was reducing the price of their 3 Gbps symmetrical residential package from £99 per month to £50 for the first 24 months. Exeter-based Full Fibre Ltd. released their fourth gigabit-capable fibre deployment region on 4 May, the supplier would be moving into Yorkshire and the north Midlands, covering 90k premises with operations being based in Barnsley. Hessle-based wholesaler MS3 Networks announced on 11 May its network expansion into Scunthorpe, Cleethorpes and Grimsby in Lincolnshire. The rollout is expected to cover 95k premises with the first properties going live in August 2022. On 13 May Zzoomm added a further seven deployment locations in the market towns of Congleton, Northwich, Sandbach, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Stokesley, Great Ayton and Wombourne. The expansion will cover a further 250k with plans to add a further 750k in the pipeline.
Gigaclear added Winchcombe and Cinderford in Gloucestershire to their rollout plans on 16 May, with the build to be fully completed by the end of the year. On 24 May, Jurassic Fibre announced that it had passed the 75k premises passed milestone and has responded to the national rise in living costs by halving the price of their ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises broadband packages. Rural broadband ISP, Wessex Internet, also reached a milestone on 30 May as they signed up their 5,000th customer. The provider also announced on 24 May that it had secured the ‘Gigahub Connectivity in Rural Dorset Project‘ from Dorset Council. The Council has been awarded nearly £900k from Project Gigabit, with Wessex Internet due to rollout to 35 sites across the county, with the first premises to be connect by June 2022 with the project completion due in September 2023.
On 26 May, TalkTalk backed Freedom Fibre announced that it had secured £84m in funding from Equitix along with £16m from Santander Bank. The relatively new ISP has already passed 20k homes across parts of Cheshire and Greater Manchester. The operator is on track to reach 70k premises by the end of this year and expects to boost customer penetration through its wholesale agreement with TalkTalk to use its fibre optic connections. Freedom Fibre will be seeking to add other broadband service providers over time as it scales. The company’s ultimate business plan is to reach more than 2m premises in its chosen locations.
BT Group published their fourth Universal Service Obligation (USO) update on 13 May, and noted that by the end of March 2022, they had built a USO connection to over 4,600 premises, with more than 2,300 further builds in progress. For the confirmed and eligible orders installation time averages around 12 months, which is within the allotted 24-month period designated by Ofcom.
BDUK’s Project Gigabit announced the introduction of another National Rolling Open Market Review (NROMR) process, which some readers may recall the ‘soft launch’ of a previous NROMR back in January 2022. The first launch was open to a limited number of suppliers with gigabit-capable suppliers asked to submit national data returns on a 4-monthly basis (January, May and September) to providedetailed build plans at premises level. The purpose of this National Rolling Open Market Review is to ensure that BDUK have the most up to date information about suppliers’ existing and planned build over the next 3-year period. For the May 2022 National Rolling OMR they are extending the invitation to more suppliers with the intention of including all suppliers over the coming months.
On 25 May, DCMS announced new plans to slash red tape from 5G roll out and improve mobile phone connectivity. Eight pilots have been launched to simplify local authority processes to speed up 4G and 5G deployment. Eight winning projects will receive a share from the £4m Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) to explore how digital software can help simplify local authority processes when telecoms operators request access to publicly-owned buildings and curb side infrastructure. Telecoms firms will also get easier access to public buildings and streetlights, bus shelters and traffic lights in 44 English and Scottish council areas.
DCMS announced on 30 May that broadband companies have been invited to bid for £36m worth of contracts to bring fast connections to 19k homes and businesses in many of the hard-to-reach areas of Cornwall. Work will commence on getting the infrastructure rolled out across the region - including rural communities in Land’s End and the Lizard Peninsula - from October this year. In a further broadband boost for the South West, the government announced dozens of public buildings in Plymouth - including doctor’s surgeries, schools and libraries - have been connectedto high-speed broadband thanks to a £164m government scheme to level up public services, which has connected more than 5k buildings across the UK.
BT Group News
4 May – BT signs five-year agreement with AWS as preferred cloud provider for internal applications to accelerate its digital transformation
6 May – Latest advertising campaign launched for its consumer Halo 3+ Hybrid Broadband which is backed up by EE’s mobile network
6 May – BT Group issues statement on preliminary judgment for Court of Appeal case. Following the Court of Appeal’s ruling on a procedural matter of certification, BT will continue to vigorously defend itself against the class action claim, which accuses BT of anti-competitive behaviour towards its landline customers
10 May – Openreach announced Llantrisant (Wales) and the surrounding area will be next FTTP network rollout location covering around 9k premises
10 May – Openreach’s full fibre build in Northumberland has reached 28k premises including more than 7k in the North of the county; locations covered include Alnmouth, Alnwick, Bamburgh, Berwick, Lesbury, Longhoughton, Rothbury and Scots Gap; new locations announced are Amble, Longframlington, Lynemouth, Otterburn, Seahouses, Shilbottle and Ulgham
11 May – Openreach announced further network expansion plans for the West Midlands, mostly in the Dudley area which will cover an additional 70k premises in Brierley Hill, Dudley, Kingswinford and also Northfield to the already 600k premises that have been passed
11 May – BT aims for £25m in savings by leaping towards AI-led operations with ServiceNow
12 May – Following its announcement of exclusive discussions on 3 February, BT has agreed a set of definitive agreements with Warner Bros. Discovery to form a 50:50 JV company to create a new premium sport offering for the UK & Ireland, and to transfer the operating businesses of BT Sport to Warner Bros. Discovery
17 May – Openreach announced £51m full fibre boost for North East of England covering an additional 170k premises to the existing 152k already passed, the expansion will cover 21 locations including Durham (city), Eaglescliffe, Easington, Hartlepool, Ingleby Barwick, Peterlee, Redcar, Saltburn, Stockton and Wolviston
17 May – Openreach announced 13 further Greater London network expansion locations including Hornchurch, Upminster, Harrow, Teddington, Hounslow and Winchmore Hill, with the aim of passing an additional 195k premises. The suppliers network already covers approximately 600k premises in the capital
17 May – A further 100k premises have been added to Openreach’s Cambridge and Peterborough expansion plans where their network already covers around 600k premises
17 May – More than 110k more homes and businesses across Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Kent and Oxfordshire are announced as part of Openreach’s £33m expansion plans in the South East
17 May – An additional 30k homes and businesses in the Dorset and Somerset have been added to Openreach’s network expansion where the supplier already covers around 650k premises
18 May – BT trials a new quantum radio to boost next-generation 5G & IoT Networks
18 May – BT Means Business with launch of new Charter for UK enterprises and public sector; the Charter consists of a new set of commitments from BT to provide its Enterprise customers with a springboard for growth - delivered through a greater focus on innovation, world-class cyber security, a new suite of digital services, customer service improvements and purpose-driven goals.
18 May – BT partners with QiO to help customers deliver on sustainability commitments; New AI-powered Edge Compute solution delivers on BT’s pledge to help customers avoid 60m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030
24 May – BT cranks up broadband speeds for thousands of small businesses on copper lines; BT’s Hybrid Speed Boost product bonding copper broadband connections from and EE mobile network together
24 May – Openreach opens new full fibre engineer training centre in Newport, Wales which will train around 6k current and new engineers throughout the year; on the same date a new training centre in Bolton will train engineers from around the North West of England
31 May – BT and Ericsson sign multi-million-pound partnership to provide commercial 5G networks; Next-generation connectivity set to drive Industry 4.0 and the digital transformation of industrial sectors.
Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) News
9 May – VMO2 launched ‘Solus Boost’, which cuts the price of all their packages – from 100Mbps to 1Gbps – to just £28 per month for the first 6 months of service (original pricing thereafter).
17 May – VMO2 Business launched ‘Get More’ tech fund for medium businesses; Medium businesses combining fixed and mobile connectivity can claim tech fund valued at 10% of new contract.
26 May – Community Calling, an initiative by Virgin Media O2 and environmental charity, Hubbub, to tackle digital exclusion, has rehomed more than 10,000 smartphones with people who need them across the country
31 May – Fast food retailer, Greggs, signs agreement with Virgin Media O2 to provide free mobile data to families in need. Recipients will receive 15GB of mobile data each and trial locations for the scheme include schools in Scotland, the North East, South East and the Midlands
31 May – Carla Lockhart MP visited Virgin Media O2’s network expansion site in Banbridge, where the business’s first recycled aggregate trial in Northern Ireland is underway. The trial being run in partnership with EJC is using recycled stone and sand when reinstating the ground after laying fibre cables – instead of new materials sourced from quarries. Switching to recycled aggregate could save more than 450 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
CityFibre (CF) News
3 May – Giganet increased commitment to CityFibre’s network offering full fibre broadband services nationwide, joining Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen Internet as major nationwide suppliers
4 May – CF announced that in Knaresborough, Rossett Green and the area to the South of the Stray in Harrogate are ‘ready for service’ with retail ISP services being provided by Boundless Networks, TalkTalk and Zen, with Giganet, Vodafone;
11 May – Zen Internet and TalkTalk start offering services via CF’s network in Crawley
15 May – Great Yarmouth set for full fibre boost as CityFibre announces £15m town-wide rollout
16 May – CityFibre extends Lowestoft coverage into Carlton, Whitton and Oulton Broad; services now live for the first connected residents across Gunton and St. Margarets, Harbour and Normanston and much of Oulton Broad. Vodafone, TalkTalk, Air Broadband, Zen, Giganet and InTouch Systems offering services in areas of Lowestoft,
23 May – CF recognised in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for second year running
24 May – CF announced that it has now made the majority of homes in the Birstall, Birkenshaw and Thornhill Lees areas of Kirklees live with the town wide build due to complete in 2023
25 May – Announced Havant as next rollout location, investing £17m in the project
27 May – Announced £28m full fibre boost for Stockton as its named as the next FTTP network deployment location
30 May – High Wycombe named as next full fibre rollout town with CF investing £23m in the project
31 May – Over 100k homes in Coventry now have access to CityFibre’s full fibre network, with Vodafone, TalkTalk, Zen, Fibrehop and IDNet, serving the areas with Giganet expected to follow soon.
Independent Operators (AltNets) News
3 May – Lightning Fibre extends FTTP network to Bexhill, East Sussex
4 May – Gigaclear add Wincanton (pop. c. 5,300) in South Somerset to their list of FTTP deployments
4 May – Zen Internet confirmed that it will be scrapping its ‘Lifetime Price Guarantee’ for newly contracted customers, the pledge will remain in place for existing customers for as long as they stay on the same broadband package
9 May – Hessle-based infrastructure supplier, MS3 Networks, signed partnership with specialist TV, gaming and broadband provider, ZYBRE. ZYBRE will join MS3’s 10Gb capable full-fibre network and whose services are being rolled out across the next 4-years to over 500k premises; on 24 May it also signed a partnership with national broadband service provider Air Broadband
10 May – KCOM announced that it has made it easier and quicker for struggling families to access its low-cost Flex social tariff by moving the application online and reducing the price
12 May – Bath-based rural ISP Truespeed announced 12-month price freeze on across its entire range of residential and business broadband packages
12 May – Commsworld in partnership with Alncolm announced that its network services have gone live Northumberland area of Alnwick, delivering gigabit-capable broadband to village communities of Longframlington, Longhorsley and Longhoughton.
14 May – Uncertainty has arisen over the future of Truespeed’s contract with £6.7m state-aid funded Connecting Devon and Somerset project as the supplier continues to experience delays over Phase 2 deployments to 15,170 properties
19 May – Netomnia announced that its full fibre multi-gigabit network is beginning its roll out in Liverpool, as part of an investment of up to £39m in the area, which will cover around 130k premises
19 May – Grain adds 9 further locations to its rollout plans, bringing the total to 43 areas
19 May – Quickline announced it is again doubling the size of its workforce (which it has already done so in 6 months) from 100 employees to 200; the FWA turned FTTP operator is moving its HQ to Willerby, Hull and rebranding as a result of an earlier Northleaf Capital investment of £500m
20 May – Sasho Veselinski, Chief Executive and co-founder of the London based full fibre provider G.Network steps down; the London-based provider is nearing 400k premises coverage
20 May – TalkTalk backed Freedom Fibre announced it has signed up its 1,000th customer; Lothian Broadband announced it has signed up its 2,000th customer
25 May – Upp signed a new partnership with Comsof Fibre and GE Digital that aims to improve how quickly they can design their new gigabit-capable FTTP broadband ISP network for the East of England
26 May – ITS continued its multi-million pound Faster Britain rollout at pace, which from the start of the year has now added Burnley, Trafford Park, Wigan, Wilmslow, Handforth, Camden, Enfield, and Mayfair, and extended its Birmingham core network beyond the city centre
31 May – Lightning Fibre launched its 10 Gbps capable full fibre network services in Heathfield, East Sussex; the build covers over 5k homes and businesses
31 May – Trooli announced their FTTP network has now passed 220k premises in the South East and will soon be extending into Dorset and Norfolk.
Other Key News Items Throughout the Month
Policies, Studies, Survey and Ofcom Announcements
Ofcom and BT Reportedly Prep Contingency Plans for AltNet Flops
Devolved Nations (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) Broadband Announcements
Mobile Broadband Announcements
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