Ultrafast broadband premises passed in the UK as of end-August 2022
This is our latest update on broadband infrastructure deployments in the UK. We tracked the progress since our latest update for April 2022. The analysis is based on the ThinkPoint broadband availability dataset which includes 1.7m postcodes. More granular, postcode level broadband availability updates by ISP and technology, are available to our ThinkPoint customers.
As of the end of end-August 2022, FTTP networks passed 38% of the UK premises.
Across the UK, 30% of premises did not have access to gigabit capable broadband. This figure was 48% in Wales and 48% in Scotland.
In 27% of local authorities the FTTP coverage was lower than 20% of premises. It was 50% or higher in 23% of local authorities.
Across the UK, more than 800K premises could choose between three independent fibre ISPs, with Peterborough being top of the charts in this category.
Almost 1.6m UK premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers.
Gigabit broadband adoption rate varied between 3% and 55% among various ISPs.
Openreach network deployment
Openreach have been pressing ahead with their full fibre rollout. We found 851,000 additional FTTP premises in the four months to the end of August 2022, which resulted in our total recorded FTTP footprint of 7.8 million premises (24% 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, aimed at covering 25 million premises by the end of 2026.
In terms of the percentage of total premises passed by Openreach FTTP, cities, towns and regions outside London and the South East dominate, with Northern Ireland especially well covered. Belfast is at the top of the list with almost 93% of premises passed by Openreach FTTP.
Among the top 20 LAs (local authorities), we discovered the largest increases in % of FTTP premises between April and August 2022 in Mid Ulster (11%), Torbay (8%), Denbighshire (7.5%) and Newry, Mourne and Down (5%).
The overal FTTP coverage, including Openreach FTTP network, independent fibre networks, Virgin Media O2’s RFOG network and KCOM was 12.2m UK premises (38% of the total). Table 3 lists top and bottom ten UK local authorities by FTTP coverage as of August 2022.
* Including Openreach, KCOM, independent networks and Virgin Media O2’s RFOG
It should be noted that these figures do not include Virgin Media O2’s gigabit network coverage, which is widely available in Oxford, for example.
As of August 2022, in 27% of UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. This figure was down from the 34% we reported four months earlier. The FTTP coverage was 50% or higher in 23% of local authorities, up from 17% four months earlier.
Virgin Media O2 footprint upgrades
As Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) had already announced the completion of its gigabit broadband rollout to its footprint of 16 million homes, we found only 108,000 of additional VMO2 gigabit premises between the end of April 2022 and August 2022.
At the same time, with just over a million RFOG premisses passed, VMO2 are the third largest FTTP network operator in the UK after Openreach and CityFibre. The operator is planning to extend this further by building FTTP to 5 million homes by 2026 through a joint venture between Liberty Global, Telefonica and InfraVia and making the network available to other providers on a wholesale basis. They may add another 2 million homes to this project at a later date.
As of August 2022, VMO2’s gigabit network covered 82% of local authorities and 49% of the total UK premises. In 50% of local authorities VMO2’s gigabit coverage was 50% and higher, while in 29% it was lower than 20%. Significant parts of the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Scotland and Wales (18% of UK local authorities) had no VMO2 gigabit coverage.
Independent fibre providers
The independent fibre network operators are also marching ahead with full fibre rollouts. As of the end of August 2022, our figures showed CityFibre leading the way with 1.5m FTTP premises covered by their network. The operator aims to pass 8m premises by end-2025. Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen remained the largest retail providers using CityFibre network.
Hyperoptic had the second largest independent FTTP network with just over 0.7m premises passed, while their plan is to cover 2 million homes by the end of 2023.
Community Fibre was a strong third with almost 0.7m premises passed, followed by GNetwork with almost 0.4m. Gigaclear and YouFibre are approaching 0.25m premises. According to our records, YouFibre and CityFibre saw the largest growth in premises passed since April 2022, though as we said before we do lag behind operator announcements in some cases.
Network overlap by independent fibre providers has increased further. (We are now including in this category independent network operators as well as retail ISPs using their networks. For example, multiple ISPs are selling fibre broadband supplied by the CityFibre network.)
In August 2022, 66 local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent fibre providers. Peterborough, Coventry and Milton Keynes lead the way in terms of % premises covered by three providers, with 76%, 75% and 73% respectively. Coventry was top of the list by the number of premises covered by three providers (115,652).
Across the UK, more than 800K premises in 38,000 postcodes could choose between three independent fibre ISPs.
Another 120 local authorities had two independent fibre providers overlapping. London and the Southeast were well represented in this category, but not exclusively.
In total, almost 1.6m UK premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers, including more than 200,000 premises with four or more such providers. In total, independent fibre providers passed 4.8 million premises, or 15% of all UK premises.
Across the UK, 30% of premises still do not have access to gigabit capable broadband (either the Virgin Media O2 or an FTTP network). This figure is especially high in Wales (48%) and Scotland (38%), where challenging terrains are not helping. In England it is 29%, while Northern Ireland is the least ‘gigabit deficient’ with 15% of premises not passed by a gigabit network. With Openreach FTTP widely available in Northern Ireland, this is not surprising.
Building the ultrafast broadband infrastructure is the first step towards reaping the benefits of gigabit speeds. Making households and businesses aware of its advantages and convincing them to switch from legacy networks is an additional challenge to network operators who need a decent return on investment to proceed with further deployments. In our sample, we found that among the large network providers (those passing more than 100,000 premises) gigabit capable broadband adoption rate varied from 5% to 55%.
Among the smaller ISPs the variation was also significant - from 3% to 47%. Among other things, the adoption rate will be determined by product pricing, marketing budgets, the existing competition, socio-economic characteristics of the areas targeted, and value added services offered.
 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.  CityFibre themselves reported 1.7m RFS premises in August 2022. See the earlier footnote about our lag behind operator announcements.  Brsk with 60K premises was excluded from the chart as an outlier due to the nearly 500% growth rate.
The complete dataset used to produce this analysis is part of our ThinkPoint service which involves UK Broadband Mapping at postcode level. For more information check our ThinkPoint page.
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