• Jolanta Stanke

Superfast and Ultrafast Broadband UK Premises Passed as of End-Apr 2022

Updated: Jun 21

Key headlines:

  • As of April 2022, in 34% of all UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. 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.

  • VMO2’s gigabit network was present in 81% of local authorities. In 50% of local authorities its coverage was 50% or higher.

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.


Openreach network deployment

Openreach have been pushing forward their full fibre rollout. We found 410,000 additional FTTP premises in March 2022 and 299,000 in April 2022, which resulted in the total recorded FTTP footprint of 6.9 million premises (21.7% of all UK premises). As in previous months, the number of their ADSL, FTTC only and Gfast premises continued to decline, with the focus shifting to FTTP deployment. The company aims to cover 25 million premises with this technology by the end of 2026.


Table 1. Openreach premises passed, by broadband technology
Table 1. Openreach premises passed, by broadband technology

The largest Openreach FTTP footprints continue to be in the sizable cities and in the regions outside London and the South East. Between February and April 2022, we discovered the largest increases in FTTP premises in Sheffield, Leeds, Coventry, and Birmingham.

Table 2. Top local authorities by Openreach FTTP footprint (more than 50K premises)
Table 2. Top local authorities by Openreach FTTP footprint (more than 50K premises)

In some areas, Openreach FTTP network is complemented by independent fibre networks and/or Virgin Media’s RFOG network. Also, KCOM has a significant FTTP footprint in the Northeast. Taking this into account, here are the top and bottom ten UK local authorities by total FTTP coverage as of April 2022.


Table 3. Top ten and bottom local authorities by % of premises passed with FTTP
Table 3. Top ten and bottom local authorities by % of premises passed with FTTP

* Including Openreach, KCOM, independent networks and Virgin Media RFOG

As of April 2022, in 34% of UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. This figure was down from the 42% we recorded in February 2022. At the end of April 2022, the total FTTP coverage was 50% or higher in 17% of local authorities, up from 13% two months earlier.


Figure 1. Premises passed by FTTP networks, by local authority (April, 2022)
Figure 1. Premises passed by FTTP networks, by local authority (April, 2022)

Virgin Media O2 footprint upgrades

Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) had already announced the completion of its gigabit broadband rollout to 15.5 million homes, which covers its entire footprint. So we found only a handful of additional VMO2 gigabit premises between the end of February 2022 and April 2022.

At the same time, with just over a million RFOG premisses passed, VMO2 remain the second largest FTTP network operator in the UK after Openreach.[2]


Table 4. Virgin Media premises passed by Gig1 and RFOG
Table 4. Virgin Media premises passed by Gig1 and RFOG

Furthermore, in mid-2021, VMO2 announced plans to upgrade its HFC network with the 10Gbps capable XGS-PON FTTP by 2028. Following the pilot in Stoke, Salisbury and Wakefield, the operator has now started the deployment of full fibre across its entire fixed network.


In addition, VMO2 plan to launch a separate company which will roll out FTTP broadband to another 7 million UK premises in new greenfield areas by 2027. It will offer access to other ISPs on wholesale basis.


In terms of the percentage of premises covered by VMO2’s Gig1 network, the top twenty local authority list has a broad geographical spread (Table 5). The coverage percentages have hardly changed in the last few of months as the operator have largely completed their network deployment.

Table 5. Top twenty local authorities by premises passed by Virgin Media’s Gig1 network
Table 5. Top twenty local authorities by premises passed by Virgin Media’s Gig1 network

As of April 2022, VMO2’s gigabit network covered 81% of local authorities, with the footprint expanded in many regions in recent months (Figure 2). In 50% of local authorities VMO2’s gigabit coverage was 50% and higher, while in 29% of local authorities it was lower than 20%. Significant parts of the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Scotland and Wales (19% of local authorities) had no VMO2 gigabit coverage.


Figure 2. Premises passed by Virgin Media’s Gig1 network, by local authority (April, 2022)
Figure 2. Premises passed by Virgin Media’s Gig1 network, by local authority (April, 2022)

Independent fibre networks

Independent network operators have also been progressing fibre rollout. As of end of April 2022, CityFibre was leading the way in terms of the FTTP footprint with almost 1m premises[3]. Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen are the largest retail providers using CityFibre network.


Zen and Vodafone have pledged nationwide availability of fibre services on CityFibre’s network, with TalkTalk expected to follow soon. This could be accelerated by potential rumoured acquisition of TalkTalk by Vodafone.


Hyperoptic had the second largest independent FTTP network with just over 0.6m premises passed, while their plan is to cover 2 million homes by the end of 2023, including 400,000 new premises to be connected during 2022.


Community Fibre was a strong third with more than 0.5m premises passed. Gigaclear, ITS and Trooli had respectable size FTTP footprints of around 200K premises. (For Gnetwork we used their end-Feb premises count quoted in their most recent communication to us, rather than our own count which is lower.[4])


Figure 3. Independent network fibre footprints (ISPs with more than 50K premises)
Figure 3. Independent network fibre footprints (ISPs with more than 50K premises)

Network overlap by independent fibre network operators has increased further. In April 2022, fourteen local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent network operators (up from eleven in February 2022). Slough, Leicester and Bradford appeared on this list in our April 2022 data, so for the first time local authorities outside London have joined this category.


Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster in London lead the way by the number of postcodes covered by three independent fibre networks.

Table 6. Local authorities with three independent fibre networks intersecting
Table 6. Local authorities with three independent fibre networks intersecting

In April 2022, another 109 local authorities had two independent networks overlapping, up from 99 in February 2022. The independent fibre providers are mainly competing in London boroughs and larger cities.

Table 7. Local authorities with two independent fibre networks intersecting (with more than 1,000 premises covered)
Table 7. Local authorities with two independent fibre networks intersecting (with more than 1,000 premises covered)

In April 2022, just over 200,000 UK premises had access to two or more independent fibre networks, including three postcodes with four such networks overlapping. In total, independent fibre networks passed 3.8 million premises, or 12.2% of all UK premises.


Table 8. Premises covered by independent fibre networks, April 2022
Table 8. Premises covered by independent fibre networks, April 2022

Taking into account independent networks, Openreach, KCOM and VMO2’s RFOG network, a total of 10.8 million premises had access to an FTTP network at the end of April 2022, up from 9.8 million in February 2022. This is 34% of all UK premises.


To find out more you can contact us on 020 3301 3303 or e-mail oliver.johnson@point-topic.com


[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] According to their recent announcement (21st March 2022), CityFibre claim 1.5m premises passed, with 1.3m being ‘ready for service’ (where there is an assigned retail ISP). However, according to our data for the end of April 2022, their footprint was around 980,000. It is possible that CityFibre included in their announcement some “going live soon” premises.

[3] See our earlier footnote about their recent announcement of premises passed.

[4] As we mentioned earlier, our premises passed data sometimes lags behind operators’ announcements and may differ from theirs in terms of definition and methodology. We have been contacted by GNetwork who indicated that, as of the end of February 2022, they had around 335K premises passed (where they dug new infrastructure and added Toby boxes outside the premises). This number was up from 314K in December 2021. (Our definition of premises passed is ready/lit for service which can be ordered and delivered within 2 weeks.)

 

The complete dataset used to produce this analysis is part of our UK Mapping service which involves UK Broadband Mapping at postcode level.

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

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