• Jolanta Stanke

Superfast and Ultrafast Broadband UK as of End Feb 2022

Updated: Jun 21

This is our latest update on superfast and ultrafast broadband deployments in the UK. The analysis is based on the ThinkPoint broadband availability dataset which includes 1.7m postcodes[1]. More granular, potscode level broadband availability updates by ISP and technology, are available to our ThinkPoint customers.


Key headlines:

  • As of February 2022, in 42% of all UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. It was 50% or higher in 13% of local authorities.

  • Just over 170,000 premises had access to two or more independent fibre networks. In total, independent FTTP networks passed 3.4 million premises.

  • Eleven local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent fibre network operators, while 99 local authorities had two independent fibre networks intersecting.

  • VMO2’s Docsis 3.1 network was present in 81% of local authorities. In 50% of local authorities its coverage was 50% or higher.


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.


Openreach network deployment


Openreach have been pressing forward with their full fibre rollout. We found 227,000 additional FTTP premises in January 2022 and 189,000 in February 2022, which resulted in the total recorded FTTP footprint of 6.2 million 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. The largest gains in terms of premises added between December 2021 and February 2022 were in Leeds, Edinburgh, Coventry, Sheffield and Bristol.


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 Feb 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

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.



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

Virgin Media O2 footprint upgrades


Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) had already announced the completion of its DOCSIS 3.1 based gigabit broadband rollout to 15.5 million homes, which covers its entire footprint. Hence we found only a handful of additional VMO2 gigabit premises between the end of December 2021 and February 2022.


With just over a million RFOG premisses passed, VMO2 remain the second largest FTTP network operator in the UK after Openreach. Furthermore, VMO2 announced their intention to upgrade its DOCSIS 3.1 network to with XGS-PON based symmetric speed FTTP by 2028.


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

According to their recent announcement, CityFibre have also reached a 1 million FTTP premises milestone although according our data, as of end Feb 2022, their footprint was around 900,000. It is possible that CityFibre included in their announcement the premises where the network had been built but the services could not be ordered yet.[2]


In terms of the percentage of premises covered by VMO2’s Docsis 3.1 network, the top twenty local authority list has a broad geographical spread (Table 5). The coverage percentages have hardly changed since December 2021 as the operator have largely completed their network deployment.


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

Local authority


As of Feb 2022, VMO2’s Docsis 3.1 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 Docsis 3.1 coverage was 50% and higher, while it was lower than 20% in 29% of local authorities. Significant parts of the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Scotland and Wales (19% of local authorities) had no VMO2 Docsis 3.1 coverage.


Figure 2. Premises passed by Virgin Media’s Docsis 3.1 network, by local authority (February, 2022)
Figure 2. Premises passed by Virgin Media’s Docsis 3.1 network, by local authority (February, 2022)

Independent fibre networks


Independent network operators have also been pushing forward with fibre rollout. As of end of Feb 2022, CityFibre was leading the way in terms of the FTTP footprint with almost 0.9m premises[3]. Hyperoptic had the second largest independent FTTP network with just over 0.6m premises passed, while Community fibre was a strong third with nearly 0.5m. According to our data, Gnetwork, Gigaclear, ITS and Trooli had respectable size FTTP footprints of around 200K premises.


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

A note regarding Gnetwork. 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 in fact, 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.)


Network overlap by independent fibre network operators has increased further. In February 2022, eleven local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent network operators (up from nine in December 2021) (Table 6). All of the 3-network postcodes were in London. Camden and Lambeth appeared on this list in our February 2022 data.


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

Another 99 local authorities had two independent networks overlapping, up from 79 in December 2021. 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)

Local authority


In February 2022, just over 170,000 UK premises had access to two or more independent fibre networks, including two postcodes with four such networks overlapping. In total, independent FTTP networks passed 3.4 million premises, or 10.9% of all UK premises.


Table 8. Premises covered by independent fibre networks
Table 8. Premises covered by independent fibre networks

Taking into account independent networks, Openreach, KCOM and VMO2’s RFOG network, a total of 9.8 million premises had access to an FTTP network at the end of February 2022, up from 9.1 million in December 2021. This is 31% of all UK premises.


[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] Actually, in their most recent announcement (21st March 2022), CityFibre claim 1.5m premises passed, although only 1.3m are ‘ready for service’ (where there is an assigned retail ISP).

[3] See our earlier caveat about their recent announcement of 1m premises passed.

 

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


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



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