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UPDATE BDUK Put Superfast Broadband Within Reach of 2.5 Million Premises

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 (1:35 pm) - Score 1,079

The Government’s national Broadband Delivery UK programme, which aims to make “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services available to 90% of the population by 2016 and 95% by 2017, has so far helped to put related connections within reach of 2.5 million additional homes and businesses (premises passed).

The figures typically represent upgrades for areas that are often considered by the major telecoms giants, such as BT and Virgin Media, to be not economically viable within their own commercial plans (i.e. locations where the Government uses public funding to help make the upgrade).

According to the update, today’s total only represents “superfast” (greater than 24Mbps) capable premises in “intervention areas“, as opposed to an overall total of those merely reached by a NGA capable “fibre broadband” network (i.e. premises that have benefitted, but which only receive sub-24Mbps, are excluded).

Overall the BDUK grants to Local Authorities, including budget transfers to devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland etc.), amounted to a cumulative £301,444,870 in cash terms up to the end of March 2015 (at this point 2,411,395 premises has been put within reach). But this excludes the match funding from local authorities, the EU and BT’s own contributions.

Apparently this equates to 7,999 premises covered per £million of BDUK expenditure so far (i.e. £125 per home or office), but take note that this figure will change as the project progresses into more challenging areas (i.e. the costs per property will rise).

bduk broadband coverage to march 2015

Meanwhile the Government are currently continuing to pilot 7 projects that could help to improve connectivity for the final 5% and many of those will be running until early 2016. At that point the Government will need to asses them in order to learn how much investment may be needed to fill the gaps and achieve 100% coverage.

But it’s feared that the most remote 1-2% of rural areas may end up being stuck with a subsidy to cover the cost of installing restrictive Satellite connections, which is hardly ideal due to the platforms tiny data allowances, high monthly rental costs and other limits (high latency etc.).

UPDATE:

As expected the Government has now confirmed the 2.5 million milestone and we’ve updated our piece accordingly.

John Whittingdale, Culture Secretary, said:

Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives. The Government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age.”

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said:

We’re rolling out superfast broadband at a terrific rate and we’re reaching another 5,000 homes and businesses every day. Many of the projects are ahead of schedule and we’re seeing more people upgrade to superfast broadband as it becomes available in their area.”

So far BT (Openreach) has continued to scoop up the vast majority of related BDUK contracts, although there have been a few small exceptions in parts of certain counties, such as the Cotswolds Broadband scheme in West Oxfordshire, UKB Networks Ltd. (HKT) in Swindon and some deployments by Gigaclear in other counties.

Broadly speaking most of BT’s approach has been to improve the coverage of their ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, with a few pockets of ultrafast (330Mbps) Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP). BT are also trialling a number of other technologies that may play a future role, such as the VDSL based Fibre-to-the-Basement (FTTB), Fibre-to-the-Remote-Node (FTTrN), Wireless-to-the-Cabinet (WTTC) solutions.

The telecoms giant has also recently announced plans to bring speeds of 500Mbps to “most homes” over the next decade by rolling out G.fast broadband technology and some extra FTTP / FoD from 2016/17, although this is likely to focus on their commercial footprint and not BDUK areas.

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Avatar Phil Coates says:

    I presume ‘economically unviable’ includes – LLU competitors in the exchange and blanket VM coverage of an area? A local compact village of 1700 houses has the former and a medium sized town has the latter. Both now fibre enabled via BDUK.

  2. Avatar DTMark says:

    “helped to put related connections within reach of 2,411,395 additional homes and businesses (premises passed).”

    “today’s total only represents “superfast” (greater than 24Mbps) capable premises in “intervention areas“”

    How have those figures been assessed and verified?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I would assume they’re just basing it off BT’s own estimates of predicted performance.

    2. Avatar MikeW says:

      Wasn’t there a discussion on here recently about the verification methodology?

      Auditing a sample was the method, IIRC.

    3. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      Superfast Wales publish their methodology which is to measure the electrical characteristics of a sample of enabled lines at each cabinet as a method of verification.

      It’s quite possible that BDUK projects have some similar arrangements.

  3. Avatar dave says:

    I would rather see a percentage of home that are able to get FTTC. I think it was around 68% about 9 months ago.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I don’t think that’s so relevant; we have VDSL available here, but it is less performant than 4G – since our usage is quite low, it makes more sense to use 4G instead for faster speeds – and looking around, VDSL isn’t a great deal cheaper despite being slower.

  4. Avatar Al says:

    You’ll forgive me for not jumping up and down as I’m yet to see any benefit from increased speeds still suck on ASDL1. Superfast lancashire signs appeared breifly last year in Novemeber concrete slab appears opposite current cabinet cabinet. Since then nothing and cabinet has moved to UR despite being shown as coming soon for something like six months once open reach went to cabinet level on the when and where site. Superfast lancashire claim that the 97% rollout will be complete by end of Jun 15, given that they did some work around preping for a new cabinet, one can only assume my cabinet was part of that inital 97% so any claim to have completed it might not be entirely accurate as I have zero confidence that my cabinet will be installed and enabled by then. Sorry for the rant.

    1. Avatar fastman2 says:

      has someone complained about your cabinet or is there some other unitily close by that means the cab cannot be stood — sugges you ask your BDUK programme

  5. Avatar gerarda says:

    I would have more confidence in the figures if they also showed the numbers connected to FTTC cabinets that were not able to receive 24Mbps.

    1. Avatar fastman2 says:

      BDUK only publish data on lines greater than 24 m/bps

    2. Avatar gerarda says:

      Exactly – so I would like to know how many of the premises passed have in fact been bypassed

  6. Avatar Owl. says:

    No sign of my ‘superfast’ 2mb connection being brought into the 21st century.Seriously considering using 4G now as we are quite low users and get at least 12mb with O2 using our phones.

  7. Avatar NGA for all says:

    The 2.4m passed points to 12k and perhaps another 2k in progress.
    £301m/13k cabs is £23k per cabinet and fibre path, the number the NAO identified in January for the The Average Cost per cabinet/fibre path/ho and core contribution, project management.

    It suggests no LA or BT money needed yet, and presents an enormous possible upside the monies allocated permit the depth and quality of coverage possible.

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