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UPD3 Broadband Delivery UK Project Passes 370K with BT Superfast Fibre

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 (8:32 am) - Score 641

The Government’s national £1.2bn Broadband Delivery UK scheme, which aims to make fixed line superfast broadband speeds of “greater than 24Mbps” available to 95% of the population by 2017, has at the end of February 2014 passed around 370,000 homes and businesses. Meanwhile the DCMS Secretary of State, Maria Miller, has left the building and been replaced by Sajid Javid.

The coverage figures represent additional premises, supported by the Government’s public funding, that otherwise wouldn’t have been upgraded as part of BT’s separate £2.5bn commercial roll-out to 66% of the United Kingdom by Spring 2014 or via Virgin Media’s existing cable reach.

The latest official update has also confirmed that these figures represent “superfast” capable premises, as opposed to an overall total of those merely reached by the operators “fibre broadband” network (i.e. FTTC lines can deliver from upwards of 2Mbps).

However as this data is coming from a politician, and remains entirely based on an estimate of “premises passed“, then we would always encourage some caution because the reality can sometimes be a little more complex; real-world performance or availability will often differ.

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said:

We audit every quarter, and we estimate that by the end of February we had passed 370,000 homes with superfast broadband. We were passing 10,000 homes a week and we are now on track to pass 40,000 homes a week [by summer 2014], so the programme is accelerating all the time.”

BDUK Premises Passed History
December 2012 – Premises: 254 / BDUK Funding: £434,735
March 2013 – Premises: 16,638 / BDUK Funding: £6,767,185
June 2013 – Premises: 38,343 / BDUK Funding: £6,767,185
September 2013 – Premises: 111,968 / BDUK Funding: £10,347,568
December 2013 – Premises: 273,731 / BDUK Funding: £14,182,547
February 2014 – Premises: 370,000 / BDUK Funding: £TBA

The data suggests that the BDUK and BT roll-out is going to plan and might still be able to reach its original / first goal of 90% coverage by the end of 2015 (BDUK myths). If the current pace continues then we should be well on our way to seeing around 500k passed by the next update (unofficially it’s already passed 400K).

The above figures were released during yesterday’s Parliamentary debate on broadband in the rural North of England.

UPDATE 9:31am

We’ve spotted an interesting update on the issue of superfast broadband take-up over at the BBC, which quotes the Welsh Government as confirming that, “We are at an early stage in the programme and the marketing activity. Current take up figures for cabinets that have been in place for over one year are around 19%. This is where we would expect take up to be at this stage.”

The figure of 19% is quite good for first year BDUK upgrades and perhaps reflects that demand for better broadband is, as expected, greater in areas that have been left neglected by the commercial deployment.

UPDATE 9:38am

Breaking News – The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which manages BDUK, has just lost its Secretary of State, Maria Miller, over the recent expenses scandal. So that’s the second one gone since Jeremy Hunt quit two years ago. Who will be next and will anything change?

In a letter to the Prime Minister she wrote: “It has become clear to me that the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this Government is doing to turn our country around.”

UPDATE 11:06am

Well that was quick. Miller has been replaced by the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove, Sajid Javid, whom currently holds the post of Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

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Mark Jackson
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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21 Responses
  1. Avatar gerarda

    The stats are only believe if they breakdown the numbers connected to the cabinet and split it between those estimated to get a superfast service, those able to get more than 2mb, and ones below 2mb

    • Avatar MikeW

      That sounds like a worthwhile addition to the stats for the rollout.

      The debate mentions the current status for North Yorkshire as: “462 cabinets out of an overall programme of 673, and more than 120,000 premises have been passed, 100,000 of which receive superfast broadband.”

      Those numbers mean that 83% of the BDUK rollout have ended up with the ability for superfast speeds. But it would be good to know what proportion of the remaining 20,000 end up as > 2Mbps.

      Presumably, of course, those values are estimated, but the estimation tool has proven to be on the pessimistic side so far.

    • Avatar gerarda

      MikeW – the debate referred to superfast as 25mbps – on this basis the coverage quoted (102,402 out of 120,000) is 85% which is exactly what the theoretical national average coverage is supposed to be at that speed. It makes me wonder whether they have just taken premises passed and multiplied it by 85% rather than establishing the facts for each cabinet.

    • Avatar DTMark

      So far as I know, the line lengths are considered confidential by BT. If so, and they are the holders of that data, then the only possible source of an estimate would be… BT. No conflict of interest there, then 😉

      Given that the performance of VDSL on such old line plant is a bit of a lottery, to get an accurate estimate you’d need to work it all out based on line lengths from each specific cabinet, and you’d also need to know what the metal and gauge for each line is.

      What you wouldn’t do is just go on a rough idea of “how far the premise is from the nearest cabinet” since that would wildly overestimate the capabilities.

      Do we know how it was calculated?

    • Avatar gerarda

      I would have thought it would be relatively easy to extract the results from BT’s line checker software.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Another addition to the stats would be the number of premises that will (*) get more through the cabinet than through ADSL to the exchange.

      That would answer another interesting question – how many of those in the 2-24 region actually get improved by the rollout, even if they don’t get SF speeds.

      (*) by estimation, still.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @gerarda
      Yes, it is easy to extract. Though you do need to know, at least, the relevant postcodes as a starting point.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @mikew It would also answer the question of how many are still getting not getting even 2mbps speeds.

      I would have thought BT could extract those pretty easily but maybe its a facet of their rollout they would rather not divulge

  2. Avatar gerarda

    should read “only believable”

  3. Avatar MikeW

    Thanks for the mention of the debate, Mark. It makes for interesting reading.

  4. Avatar flipdee

    Stick an BT employee in as new DCMS, that’ll at least cut out the middle man.

    • Avatar No clue

      Nah we already have had a member diddle expenses, do not need those that do it as second nature.

  5. Avatar flipdee

    “Diddle Expenses” / Short Change Tax Payer on Superfast Broadband Rollout.
    At least the diddle expenses bit only cost the tax payer £6k and in reality, with Maria paying it back cost them nothing.
    Otherwise, how much is BDUK actually “diddling” the taxpayer through the BT sole supplier debacle?

    • Avatar JNeuhoff

      “Otherwise, how much is BDUK actually “diddling” the taxpayer through the BT sole supplier debacle?”

      100% of taxpayer’s money donated through the BDUK to the wannabe charity known as BT has been wasted because there is virtually no ROI, BT will own almost all of it and still charge full prices, too!

    • DETI Northern Ireland paid £16m for 1265 cabinets – 60% of budget and 70% of budget spent outside Greater Belfast. For some beyond 90% they paid £21k each.
      North Yorkshire have confirmed that are paying £176 per premise past for an average cabinet serving 286 homes passed or a total of £47,000 for each of the first 399.
      No material difference in Geography in terms of density or spread.
      As communicated by PAC it is a factor of three times. There are approximately 25,000 fibre paths to be done.
      So the subsidy inflation for this state aid project is a factor of approximately 3 times.

    • Avatar No clue

      “At least the diddle expenses bit only cost the tax payer £6k…”

      And the rest of £200,000 odd the mortgage would had cost the tax payer if she had not ran away with her tail between her legs when she got found out.

  6. Avatar dragoneast

    UPDATE: perhaps you’ve fallen for the politicians fairytale, that Maria was some sort of superwoman suffering a temporary setback in the comic book of life, battling the Evil Empire. The ship has lost its figurehead, tragedy; it sails on and doesn’t even change course. Politicians just try to take the credit for everything and the blame for nothing. As with most of us the problems are inside their own heads. Self-obsession destroys you, always.

  7. Avatar dragoneast

    So far as I recall there were leaked schedules showing the expected uplift in speeds from ADSL to FTTC for the commercial roll-out by postcode i.e. street level during the planning stages. Pretty accurate in my case of a typical suburban/village. Why wouldn’t BT do the same for the BDUK roll-out, and the summarised data probably come from that as it’s updated? You can’t hurry love though, as they used to sing.

  8. Avatar Slow Somerset

    Diddle Expenses, if any of us done it, it would have been called Theft.

  9. Avatar Paul Vincent

    lol this 95% is a joke here is a reply i have from the blackcountry lep about my exchange upgrade.

    I have spoken to my contact at BT. Unfortunately the Dudley exchange is not considered to be economically viable for inclusion in the commercial fibre broadband roll out programme, therefore its enablement will be subject to resources from BDUK. Black Country consortium is co-ordinating the delivery of BDUK programme, however are currently seeking match funding before they can proceed. I am afraid I’m unable to give you any detail on a timescale as am not involved in this work. However, BDUK can only fund rollouts in areas where Virgin Media has not installed a network as public funds cannot be used to overbuild another network.

    Heather

    Heather Clark (Economics)
    Manager Strategic Proj/funding, Education & Enterprise

    now how can they say 95% lol….

  10. Avatar Paul Vincent

    oopps forgot to add that my exchange covers 27,000 residential properties lol

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