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Superfast Broadband Available to 60% of UK Homes but Low Uptake Remains

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 (8:35 am) - Score 1,071

The communications regulator, Ofcom, has released its annual 2012 Communications Market Report (CMR), which covers almost every conceivable variable of the UK’s media and telecom industries. In particular it reveals that 60% of UK homes can now access superfast broadband ISP services (up from 53% a year ago) but uptake is still low.

The data, which mostly covers the period up to the end of Q1-2012, also reveals that uptake of superfast broadband services (most of which command a price premium of £5-£10 extra per month) is still low and now accounts for just 6.6% of all residential and SME connections (1.4 million).

However Ofcom notes that this 6.6% figure still equates to 960,000 (162%) more than there had been a year previously (i.e. 2.1% in Q1-2011). The regulator expects a significant rise over the coming years as Virgin Media, which can reach around half of the country, continues to upgrade its customers cable broadband speeds and coverage of BT’s FTTC technology increases towards passing 66% of premises in 2014 (possibly 90% by 2016/2017 if it wins the lion’s share of government funding).

superfast broadband uptake q1 2012

Elsewhere the proportion of respondents with a fixed broadband ISP connection who were either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with their overall service was largely unchanged at 87%. The same was also true for satisfaction with broadband speeds, which held at 80% despite a general rise in performance.

Overall the total number of fixed broadband connections passed 20 million for the first time in 2011, complemented by over 5 million Mobile Broadband connections; in total 76% of UK homes had a broadband service. Sadly total UK telecoms revenues fell by 1.9% in 2011 to £39.7bn, driven by a fall in wholesale revenues.

In addition 8 out of 10 people in the UK had access to the internet in the first quarter of 2012 and the average time online per month per internet user stood at 23.5 hours for 2011. Meanwhile eCommerce continues to grow. The value of retail sales transacted online was £2.6bn in February 2012, up by 30% year on year.

Unfortunately Ofcom’s full report, which also breaks the data down for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is far too big for an easy summary but if you have an entire week free with nothing to do then feel free to examine its many statistical delights below.

Ofcom’s UK Communications Market Report 2012

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20 Responses
  1. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    BT upgraded Wallasey Exchange on the 30th June 2012. I have seen 2 of the new Fibre cabinets on my travels around Wallasey. Where BT have put them is in VM cabled areas. Needless to say I don’t live in the cabled area so NO FTTC for me.


  2. Avatar Facts at last says:

    quote”coverage of BT’s FTTC technology increases towards passing 66% of premises in 2014″
    The document makes interesting reading…

    Figure 5.2 (Page 283) FINALLY something closer to the reality of FTTC coverage, instead of BTs BS exchange figures. and stupid quotes like “10 million homes”

    66% by 2014? in their dreams. Its took them over 2 years already to get to that 31%. They still are not capable of supplying as much of the country with 30+Mb speeds as Virgin and they have already been allocated millions. Its laughable and pathetic. Of that pathetic 31% i also wonder how much is overlay where Virgin already had coverage (Many areas in the cities for starters no doubt).

    BT and their crones though obviously still think the UK will be the “best” in Europe. Must be something in their office water coolers.

    1. Avatar Somerset says:

      33% now, doing 1%/month. Therefore in 30 months 63%.

    2. Avatar Deduction says:

      Chart does not show that at all, it shows Dec 2010 until March 2012 this year, and during that period it did not increase by 1% every month. Based on that and assuming just once and only once in the remainder of 2012 and once in 2013 there is a period where it doesnt increase by 1% each and EVERY month then 66% is an utter daydream.

      It should also be noted that chart isnt BT figures but more based on reality, if you clicks at the end of the pages in section 5 of that document. Its clear BT have tried to claim the figures are higher/better than that.

      The document makes very interesting reading and shows IMO just how poorly BT have done thus far with the roll out. This isnt a shock though, anyone with any brain knew BTs quotes of “10 million homes” and similar were nonsense. Telewest/NTL done more coverage in 2 years rolling out their product than BT have, and they didnt even have government backing.

      As is usual the backing of the wrong nag named BT has happened again. This country can look forward to another 10-20 years of distinctly average broadband while the rest of the world pushes forward with real “superfast” services.

    3. Avatar Somerset says:

      How much government funding has BT received so far for the rollout of superfast broadband? What is the increase in VM coverage?

      5.2 and 5.3 show BT is responsible for the growth and it would be interesting to know what rate of rollout you would like.

    4. Avatar Deduction says:

      All i can see in sections 5.2 and 5.3 are facts and figures mainly for voice calls and mobile usage.

      By government funding are you including EU funds, local authority funds as well as BDUK and similar schemes? And by received do you mean actually got the cash or are we talking the reality (unless you want to disagree with many recent news items) that BT are basically getting all the BDUK cash.

      Either way the answer to that is millions.

  3. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    any home with access to the ‘superfast’ already had access to fairly good adsl or virgin. they won’t change unless something is far superior, and fttc isn’t. for them.
    so they stay ‘homes passed’ which is as good a marketing scam as ‘up to’.
    And the digital divide grows ever wider, and everyone in power hands funding over for more patch ups of the copper which won’t fix the problem… See Wales has fallen for it today…

    1. Avatar Deduction says:

      It certainly appears from this report around half the FTTC rollout is to areas that already had Virgin. Id also imagine though ive not read it in too much detail a fair chunk is to areas that already got decent ADSl speeds and likely had a choice of LLU providers……. Or the short version the rollout and funding is a sham.

  4. Avatar bob says:

    There is a lot of marketing spin with this BT’s coverage of FTTC is clearly knowhere near 66%. AA simple sanity check of the number of exchanges enabled tells you that. Add into the equaition that typically only about 60% of the cabinets are enable on each exchange and it is clear it is nonsense. My estimate is it is in the region of 40%

    The reason for the low takeup is not hard to see. BT focuses on the city & town centre exchanges where lines are typically short and you do not need FTTC to get a reasonable speed. The other areas BT focus on aare the VM areas so again tthose that want HS would be with VM

    The sensible thing for BT to do would haver been to focus on the outer areas of towns as in most cases they do not have VM and usually lines are long as wee, yet BT ignores theses areas. The very areas they would get a high take up

    1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

      but they won’t do those areas Bob, either because there are no cabinets there to start with, or there aren’t enough potential customers, or too many businesses in the area (cos they are usually on leased lines and bt don’t want to lose that trade…)
      so instead they carry on bleeding the golden goose, which is refusing to lay golden eggs any more…

    2. Avatar Deduction says:

      Indeed you are both right. Of that 31% availability of FTTC around half of it runs through an area which was already enabled by Virgin. This is shown in the graph on page 284. And further goes to show alot of the money already chucked into this so called next gen rollout is an utter waste.

    3. Avatar Darren says:

      “The sensible thing for BT to do would haver been to focus on the outer areas of towns as in most cases they do not have VM and usually lines are long as wee, yet BT ignores theses areas.”
      This area has partial VM coverage, a big estate on the edge of the exchange area is one of the areas they missed out. Thousands of people stuck with sub 3Mb. FTTC installed summer 2010, including the missed estate, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since, went from 3Mb to 37.5Mb and then 75Mb actual throughput.

      There is no way VM would be coming back to enable the missed areas. So I’m glad BT are enableing areas with VM coverage because VM don’t always enable everyone in the area either.

      My cab has at least 100 FTTC connections as of the middle of last year, it would be interesting to compare that uptake to the parts of the exchange area that does have VM coverage.

  5. Avatar bob says:

    Quote”but they won’t do those areas Bob, either because there are no cabinets there to start with, or there aren’t enough potential customers”

    I have yet to come across outer areas of towns or cities that do not have BT cabinets

    1. Avatar Deduction says:

      In the main there will be cabinets you are right bob. However there are also meant to be a number of small villages in the UK where most people in them are connected direct to the exchange

    2. Avatar bob says:

      I was though not talking about small villages. I was referring to outer areas oof towns and cities which BT frequently ignore. These would be areas likely to have high take up as they often have long lines and in many cases if VM is available in that region the outer areas never got cabled.

  6. Avatar chris says:

    its no wonder uptakes low when you house is round he corner only about 300m from the cab but but because of the cable rooting your line to the cab is over 1km long and your estimite is only 12mb

    1. Avatar Somerset says:

      Is that typical?

    2. Avatar Deduction says:

      Theres no information to know if that example is typical or not. Though obviously the situation exists which is the important point.

    3. Avatar Somerset says:

      But is it typical enough for chris in anti BT mode to claim it is the reason?

    4. Avatar Deduction says:

      Neither you or i know, as i said there is no information to know if it is typical. Maybe they do though, however if you can disprove his claims go right ahead.
      Either way also as i previously stated the situation obviously does exist.

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