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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.).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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