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Broadband Delivery UK Scheme Passes the 1 Million Premises Mark

Friday, August 8th, 2014 (12:16 am) - Score 719

The Government have announced that the £1.7bn (excluding EU and BT contributions) state aid fuelled Broadband Delivery UK programme has now helped more than 1 million homes and businesses (premises passed) to get access to a “superfast broadband” connection, which BDUK typically defines as offering speeds of greater than 24Mbps (Megabits per second).

The announcement, which follows less than 24 hours after BDUK released their official quarterly update to the end of June 2014 (here), confirms that up to 40,000 extra premises are gaining access to superfast connectivity every week thanks to the investment and this focuses on rural and sub-urban areas where the private sector has previously chosen not to upgrade (i.e. those considered economically unviable).

Ultimately the BDUK deployment aims to push fixed line superfast broadband speeds out to 95% of the population by 2017 and this is predominantly being supported by BT and their ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology (with a little 330Mbps FTTP). An approach is also being developed to help plug the final 5% (here and here).

Sajid Javid, Culture Secretary, said:

More than a million homes and businesses have now benefitted as a result of Government’s investment in superfast broadband.

It is totally transforming the way we live and work. You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world using VOIP is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out.”

For Businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.”

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, added:

Getting fibre to rural areas is hard, and often complex, work but we are making great progress. Our engineers are busy, from Hampshire to the Highlands, connecting homes and businesses whatever the challenge. We are laying undersea cables to the Outer Hebrides, reaching remote villages in Wales and transforming rural areas across England.

BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as hundreds of millions of pounds. Some of the early projects are close to completion and further funds will be released if we come in under budget or take-up exceeds expectations.”

The programme claims it will eventually deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested and can create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024, including a £1.5 billion boost to local economies. No doubt it will deliver a significant improvement, although it’s also notoriously difficult to understand the real contribution of faster broadband connectivity to a country.

So far as we can tell the project appears to be making good time and there’s a strong prospect of still being able to reach the original 90% coverage goal by the end of 2015. At worst it will only be a tiny amount off the mark, perhaps by 1-3% (pretty good by government project standards), but it’s still too early to say for certain.

The latest update also includes a detailed local authority run-down of “fibre” premises helped by the BDUK programme (most of this data is collected to the end of July 2014).

BDUK by Local Authorities (Premises Passed with FTTx)

Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes 1,038
Berkshire 755
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire 8,931
Cambridgeshire 29,776
Cheshire 31,760
Cumbria 38,965
Derbyshire 5,743
Devon and Somerset 55,694
Dorset 9,316
Durham 13,173
East Riding of Yorkshire 1,525
East Sussex 8,122
Essex 3,671
Greater Manchester 508
Hampshire 14,316
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire 31,879
Highlands and Islands 14,524
Isle of Wight 0
Kent 36,121
Merseyside 11,253
Lancashire 64,190
Leicestershire 585
Lincolnshire 34,143
Newcastle 1,828
Norfolk 73,985
North and North East Lincolnshire 9,662
North Yorkshire 133,000
Northamptonshire 20,377
Northern Ireland 3,231
Northumberland 17,598
Nottinghamshire 1,731
Oxfordshire 9,131
Rest of Scotland 42,675
Rutland 9,000
Shropshire 18,314
Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire 19,755
Staffordshire 10,399
Suffolk 44,194
Surrey 68,858
Wales 190393 *
Warwickshire 12,226
West Sussex 9,980
West Yorkshire 10,368
Worcestershire 1,408

Take note that some of the above figures (e.g. Wales) only reflect data to the end of June.

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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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8 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Good to see progress being made, looks like the contracts are really picking up speed now.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      It’s probably entering a sweet-spot now as many of the projects were late getting started and there would have been competition for resources with the commercial roll-out.

      I think we can expect some more numbers before the general election. Pure coincidence of course.

      Once the “low hanging fruit” are dealt with, the rate will surely slow down a lot.

  2. Avatar Phil Coates says:

    ‘Once the “low hanging fruit” are dealt with, the rate will surely slow down a lot.’…. And perhaps the areas that really need improvement might get a look in.

    1. Avatar PhilB says:

      Those that have will have more and those that don’t don’t will just keep getting left further behind.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      It depends how much money is in the pot. The Openreach cabinet checker gives some hints. The hamlet where my brother lives in Bucks is going to have to wait about 2 years before being assessed.

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @PhilB
      Quote “Those that have will have more and those that don’t don’t will just keep getting left further behind.”

      With coverage rising steadily it’s unclear how you reach that conclusion. The latest stats show close to 80% of premises have access to fibre broadband! with BDUK projects delivering 1m so far. All of which suggests the digital divide is shrinking, let’s hope it gets down to 5% or less over the next 2-3 years.

  3. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    What is the capacity of all the cabs that BT have installed. I bet they will not give 80% of connections. BT might be able to connect 40% but not 80%.

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      Why would they need to connect 80% from day one?

      In the recent 2014 report, Ofcom reckon that 77% of homes have any kind of fixed broadband connection – the rest encounter some other barrier to having a connection – no need for it, no desire to own a computer, no skills, or feel it is too expensive.

      And of that 77%, virgin media have a market share of around 20% – around 4.4 million who don’t need connectivity via an Openreach cabinet. That leaves around 62% who are the ones who could/would choose an FTTC connection. Why deploy more than the size of your target market?

      Beyond that, there also seems to be a massive chunk who aren’t willing to pay the £5-£10 premium for NGA connections. Either they don’t want to pay, or have no need of the extra speed, or are amongst the ones who wouldn’t see a speed increase. LLU-based ADSL suppliers have 45% of the market, and it grew plenty last year. Plenty of people are happy with their ADSL speed, or happy with the amount they pay for it – and among this group are the ones who get it as an incidental extra on top of the TV service they really care about.

      Getting 50% of their target market, or about 30% of the total premises, is going to be quite an achievement. There’s not much pressing need to deploy infrastructure for more subscribers than that.

      Eventually, we’ll need more – and some places sooner than later. Targeting is then the key, not blanket capacity that would be largely wasted.

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