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UK FTTH Fibre Optic Broadband ISP Connections Pass 186500 Premises

Monday, October 28th, 2013 (1:02 am) - Score 3,203
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The latest information on coverage of true fibre optic broadband (FTTH/P/B) connections in the United Kingdom suggests that the market hasn’t moved much since the end of 2012. The latest count for June 2013 records a total of 186,500 premises have now been passed by the ultrafast (100Mbps+) connection method.

It’s interesting to note that this figure, which was kindly supplied to us by Point Topic, is somewhat lower than the 199,000 reported by the FTTC Council Europe for the end of December 2012 (here). This appears to be due to a collection of small differences between Point Topic and the Council figures (e.g. CityFibre previously quoted nearly 24,000 passed but Point Topic use a figure of 21,000 after the fibre provider revised their figure downwards).

Similarly Hyperoptic, B4RN and KC tend to issue much more sporadic coverage updates and so their figures are most likely higher than what is currently reported but probably not by much. One big reason for the slow progress is also BT’s decision to abandon their target to cover 2.5 million premises with FTTP (here), which formed part of the original £2.5bn commercial roll-out to 66% of the UK. At the end of last year it was estimated that BT had passed 100,000 premises with FTTP and so far that figure hasn’t changed, at least not significantly.

It’s been well documented that BTOpenreach often struggled with the time and complexity required to wire up individuals homes and instead has put more focus on its FTTC roll-out and expensive FTTP-on-Demand (FoD / FTTPoD) solution, the latter of which isn’t likely to become a viable mass market solution anytime soon (here). The separate deployment of native FTTP under the government’s £1.2bn Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme doesn’t look as if it will be adding much to the total either but only time will tell.

Instead it looks as if smaller ISPs (mostly altnets) will be left to pick up the slack and some of them certainly have bold plans. For example, KC in Hull has so far pushed their FTTH network out to pass 20,300 premises but this should reach 30,000 by the end of the year and 45,000 come March 2015 (here). Similarly Hyperoptic’s service currently covers 23,000 premises in London but their goal is 500,000 within the next five years.

Lest we not forget the contributions of operators like Ask4 (10,000 passed with FTTB in Leeds), B4RN (1,500), IFNL (6,000) and various others. BT and Virgin Media might not be looking towards a pure fibre optic network approach, preferring instead to focus on the cheaper but also slower hybrid fibre (FTTC/N/Cable) methods, but many others clearly are. Smaller ISPs tend to find that fibre optic can be expensive during the roll-out phase but its performance should hopefully pay off over the longer term.

Admittedly very few people currently NEED speeds of 100Mbps+ but history shows that eventually even 100Mbps will begin to look like 1Mbps does today, especially with 4K video streams being just around the corner and cloud-based media storage and sharing services becoming more prevalent (Xbox One, PS4 etc.).

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. FibreFred says:

    B4RN (1,500) is that properties passed, do they have a sign up update on that, last was about 150 odd I think

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      The 150 was the homes connected figure from a lot earlier this year.

    2. FibreFred says:

      Sure I’ve seen nothing since though

  2. Karen says:

    All figures if you would care to read the story from all providers are premises PASSED figures

  3. Sledgehammer says:

    The real question I ask myself is “How many people actually have FTTH” NOT premises passed?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Difficult to answer for all of the operators but KC tend to report 25% and it’s a similar story for Hyperoptic. BT’s figures are a bit harder to come by but we know that they’re around 25-30% for their FTTP/B deployment to apartment blocks and high rises in London.

      At the other end of the spectrum you have CityFibre’s network in Bournemouth, which claims to pass 21k but can only muster around a couple of hundred customers (optimistic rough count from earlier this year).

      It should be said that many of the smaller FTTH/P schemes are based on demand and so you’d expect reasonable take-up from those.

    2. FibreFred says:

      Agreed Mark hence my question about updated b4rn take up

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      The last July 2013 figure we had from them is 170 connected, although their approach makes it tricky to gain a clear figure for premises passed (though the phase one core network build is intended to pass around 1,500 or so).

      They also have a unique business model that’s not as strictly demand based in the same way as say.. Gigaclear, although B4RN might have to adopt a more commercial approach if they can’t secure grant funding from RCBF.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/07/b4rn-target-grant-to-extend-ftth-broadband-in-lancashire-uk.html

      Since July they’ve had to build across a lot of sparse open land and so I wouldn’t expect a dramatic jump in homes connected until Wray is fully wired up.

    4. FibreFred says:

      B4RN certainly have those intentions but does that stand true at the moment? 3 months ago they had reported they had passed 300 properties. As its taken them over a year to pass 300 props it does seem a massive leap from 300 to 1500 in 3 months hence me asking.

      And I’m not sure I’d count those connected via wi-fi as having fibre which is why I said 150 odd, 157 to be exact.

      I still think its on-demand, B4RN is going where customers have expressed interest, its not a scatter shot approach its planned with the community to go where its needed.

    5. Mark Jackson says:

      Just for the record, 1500 is the figure used by Point Topic.

    6. FibreFred says:

      Thanks, I’d expect they are well off then and using target as opposed to actual figures, which is worthless

    7. Karen says:

      If “Target” figures are worthless than so are BTs figures and every deployment in the UK as all those figures are only “Target” coverage figures.

      You obviously seem to have an issue with anything which is not BT.

    8. FibreFred says:

      As you rightly said the article is about homes passed, not ones that hope to be passed. The b4rn figures look very very suspect from point topic

  4. New_Londoner says:

    @MarkJ
    Not sure KC counts as an “altnet” (paragraph 5) as it is the incumbent operator in Hull.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      It’s not strictly meant to be a list of altnets but I’ll change it to “mostly altnets” if that makes you happy :).

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