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The March 2015 BDUK and BT “Fibre Broadband” Uptake Figures

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 (2:33 pm) - Score 2,366
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The Government’s Broadband Delivery UK project, which is predominantly working with BT to deploy superfast “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services across the United Kingdom, has published the programmes latest take-up figures for March 2015. Adoption continues to rise and more projects are now touching the 20% claw-back threshold.

Readers might recall that we published the first uptake summary just before Christmas using September 2014 Data and then the second update was posted a few months later using the December 2014 Data, which revealed that Hampshire, Surrey, North Yorkshire and Rutland had all broken the 20% uptake milestone.

Understanding uptake is important because most of the related BDUK contracts have a claw-back mechanism, which means that take-up beyond 20% (this figure may vary between contracts) could trigger a return of some of the original investment and that can then be used to extend coverage or improve service performance.

As before the following figures only reflect uptake in areas that have been upgraded through the BDUK and related state aid schemes, thus they do not include uptake achieved through purely commercial deployments (e.g. BT’s separate £2.5bn roll-out of FTTC/P to the first 66% of the United Kingdom or Virgin Media’s cable network).

The good news is that BDUK’s latest March 2015 data shows that Cambridgeshire, Peterborough (19.5%), Herefordshire and Gloucestershire (20.3%) and Northamptonshire (21.3%) have now effectively passed the all-important 20% threshold and others are closing fast.

BDUK Phase 1 Take-up Data (March 2015) – %
Berkshire Councils – 11.2
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire – 15
Cambridgeshire, Peterborough – 19.5
Central Beds, Bedford Borough, Milton Keynes – 13.4
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton – 16.1
Devon & Somerset (including, Plymouth, Torbay, North Somerset, Bath & NE Somerset) – 13.3
Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire – 15.9
Cumbria – 17.3
Derbyshire – 9.1
Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole – 12.9
Durham, Gateshead, Tees Valley and Sunderland – 11.3
East Riding of Yorkshire – 8
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove – 13.9
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock – 11.2
Greater Manchester – 8.5
Hampshire – 17.6
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire – 20.3
Isle of Wight – 6.5
Kent and Medway – 13.7
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen – 14.3
Leicestershire – 10.4
Lincolnshire – 12.9
Merseyside – 6.7
Newcastle upon Tyne – 5.8
Norfolk – 14.9
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire – 15.3
North Yorkshire – 23.5
Northamptonshire – 21.3
Northumberland – 16.1
Nottinghamshire – 9.7
Oxfordshire – 16.2
Rutland – 39.8
Shropshire – 16.9
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent – 10.7
Suffolk – 17.1
Surrey – 27.1
West Sussex – 14.9
West Yorkshire – 10.7
Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire – 18.7
Worcestershire – 12.5

Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands – 11.6 (up from 10.3% in Dec 2014)
Northern Ireland – 8.5 (up from 0.4% in Dec 2014)
Rest of Scotland – 10.8 (up from 8.7% in Dec 2014)
Wales – 13.7 (up from 12.7% in Dec 2014)

Take note that uptake is a dynamically scaled measurement, which means that at certain stages of the scheme it may go up or down depending upon the pace of deployment and other factors; but over time the direction should only go upwards. Likewise several of the projects report far lower uptake, usually because they only began fairly recently.

Some of the other issues that can impact uptake include higher prices for FTTC/P services (less attractive), consumers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP (can’t upgrade yet), a lack of general availability awareness or interest in the new connectivity (i.e. if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed then you might be less inclined to upgrade) and concerns over the ease of migration.

Overall the results are positive and appear to be running well ahead of the Government’s initial predictions, not that this would be too difficult with some early projections expecting considerably less (here and here). NOTE: BDUK recently reported that 2.5 million premises had been covered by the work up to March 2015 (here).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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35 Responses
  1. Phil Coates

    I wonder if there is a relationship between uptake and the prior presence of Virgin Media ‘fibre’ in a given area?

    VM have a very strong presence in Stoke and Staffordshire and uptake of BT ‘fibre’ is low.

    Just asking.

    • Steve Jones

      BDUK should not be overbuilding VM areas to any great extent (although it’s near impossible to rule out all overlaps). As such, it should not affect BDUK uptake (rather than BT commercial areas, where it may be a factor).

      The OMR process is designed to avoid clashes with commercial NGA roll-outs.

    • dave

      virgin will usually match or beat bt’s price so there isn’t much incentive for people to leave. Virgin offered to match my deal with bt’s black friday offer with quidco and sainsburys vouchers etc but i decided to leave because bt has faster upload speed and virgin increase their prices mid-contract whereas my bt contract is for a set period.

    • Jon

      In Cheshire looking at where Openreach have completed BDUK work appears to be where Virgin exists. Areas without are last on the list. Surely this has to be tactical by Openreach.

  2. DTMark

    “Some of the other issues that can impact uptake include..”

    You forgot “it’s too slow”. 😉

    • dave

      it is fast enough for 95% of users. I’m on the 38Mbps FTTC tier, i used to be on 100mb virgin. Speed is plenty for everything, the only downside is that torrents take longer to download which isn’t a big problem for me. The upload speed of 9.4mbps that i get is WAYYY better than the crappy 3mbps that i got with virgin.

    • Steve Jones

      To slow for what? My FTTC connection (commercial) is far faster than I ever use in practice. I know plenty of people who have found moving from ADSL to FTTC has made all the difference in the world going from 2-3mbps speeds to a few tens of mbps. Suddenly iPlayer works properly, even using multiple streams. Working from home, teleconferencing and so on all work well.

      That’s not to say it’s fast enough for everybody’s needs or aspirations, but for many it’s functionally sufficient. Indeed, many people finds ADSL2+ fast enough for their needs.

      Note, I don’t include those who get little, if any benefit, by moving to FTTC because they are too far from the cabinet. There is a small, but still significant % that fall into that category, but the number is not enough to impact penetration at these levels.

      So, rather than FTTC not being fast enough (for the great majority), I think a bigger issue is that ADSL2+ is sufficient and why pay more for FTTC? Certainly in my parent’s case, they have got no interest in going from 6mpbs to the 30mbps or so they would get from FTTC. They simply have no need.

    • DTMark

      3.4Mbps up is all that BT are confident that they can deliver to this address.

      That’s about 46.4Mbps slower than our 4G connection delivers at best and about 33.6Mbps slower than it delivers at worst.

      Downstream is more hilarious – only confident of delivering 15Mbps, but then we’re presumably not in a “superfast” area.

    • Ben

      Unfortunately our village is probably going to suffer from really poor uptake, the cabinet is about 1.5km away from any houses (other than the 4 by the cabinet) so the vast majority will be lucky to get 15Mbps.

      I’m probably the most enthusiastic in the village but even I’d consider sticking with ADSL if I can’t get 15Mbps or more. If they’d actually ran in FTTP (which in our scenario wouldn’t have been significantly more expensive) then I’d upgrade immediately. I’m still convinced that the extra cost per premises passed would easily be clawed back through much improved uptake.

    • FibreFred

      But DTMark we don’t all live in your village 🙂 some of us are more than happy with our speeds, faster than predicted even

    • MikeW

      @dtmark

      You forgot: “too slow … for some”.

      Pretty much the same as 4G.

    • DTMark

      A quick test reveals that it’s running slow tonight.

      http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/4390715358

      That’s with a cloud backup running, maybe taking about 2Meg. Downstream is atrocious though. Too many kids on their mobiles perhaps.

      It’s all about getting the right tech for the right area. At about 600m from the cabinet connected via 1300m of wire that wasn’t going to be VDSL.

      I’d have thought BT would want to deploy useful, attractive products and services to secure rental on a line that has been lying dead for seven years and counting.

      I await the arrival of the G.Fast node on the pole outside..

    • FibreFred

      I thought you were emigrating ?

    • MikeW

      That’s slow?

      I wish EE gave me those speeds here at *any* time of the day. I can’t get anywhere near those speeds … even with external antenna, line of sight, 5 bars and 90% RSSI.

      Altogether, 4G is best described as “variable”.

    • rod

      yeah you right its too slow as its rubbish round this shit hole where I live 🙁

    • DTMark

      Downstream is normally 37+. Upstream is normally either 37 or around 50.

      Vodafone 4G, by contrast, only manages around 20/20.

      We were due to emigrate and even had Eurostar tickets booked to look at and secure a flat in the city (Amsterdam) but some bad family news about my father meant we have had to put this on hold for now.

    • JamesMason

      The best BT can give us over FTTC is 42Mb down and 15Mb up. On 4G like DTMark i normally get around 40Mb on the downstream and 45Mb on Upstream. I do not live in a rural area either but a considerable sized town with 30,000+ connections at the exchange. FTTC is pathetic the upstream is 3x slower and downstream only about the same.

    • FibreFred

      ^ pathetic speeds indeed how could you do anything with that 🙂

  3. Steve Jones

    As I say, there is a small, but significant number of people who will not get sufficient benefit from FTTC to migrate to it. For those, another solution will have to be found, but whatever it is will be more expensive to implement, and it will take longer.

    • Phil Coates

      Steve

      A local town with blanket VM coverage AND on the commercial roll out from BT has had 30 BDUK funded cabs installed. I simply do not believe that the issue of avoiding overbuild is taken seriously at all.

      After all when Phase 1 is complete and if the European Commission were to complain about overbuild, BT/BDUK are not going to tear the cabinets down are they?

    • TheFacts

      @Phil – where is BDUK building where there is VM?

    • Steve Jones

      @Phil Coates

      If VM were being substantially overbuilt, and the local BDUK project had ignored the OMR, then I would have thought VM would be jumping up and down making a big noise. The whole thing is wide open to judicial review. However, I’ve seen complaints from people that their cabinet hasn’t been enabled under BDUK because VM operates in their area, but not to their property. As I say, some overlap is inevitable as OR cabinets will very often have areas only partially covered by VM. (VM cabinets are far more numerous and each cover much smaller groups of properties whilst OR can have much wider range. Round here, in Maidenhead, VM cabinets outnumber OR by what might be as much as 10:1).

      Perhaps if you could supply the name of the town in question. Hopefully, the BDUK project in question has published a list of cabinets that it enabled. Thirty cabinets is quite a lot and could easily service 6,000 properties. That’s quite a big population. It’s often unclear which cabinets are commercial, and which BDUK as they are often enabled at much the same time as it can be more efficient in terms of workforce utilisation. Often councils have a vested interest in quoting the whole coverage, and not just the BDUK elements. Lines can get blurred.

    • MikeW

      The current guidelines seem to allow an area to be still classed as NGA white when the area is only “partially covered” by alternative superfast suppliers. The guidelines cover the case of multiple such suppliers, but the reality for most is that this means VM.

      Those people outside of the “partial coverage” are probably happy about this.

      “Partially covered” was never well defined in phase 1, and the definition varies by county in phase 2. However, it looks like BDUK will allow subsidised builds when existing superfast coverage amounts to less than 90% of properties in the area.

      Naturally that allows for an amount of overbuild to occur.

      However, as far as I can work out, the subsidies claimed can only count the properties that didn’t have superfast speeds beforehand. Government documents certainly confirm that statistics for “homes passed” by the project are produced using only the previously non-superfast properties.

    • MikeW

      I think Phil is referring to the town of Rugeley in Staffordshire.

      Rugeley has certainly been reported in the past, by people closer to the Staffordshire project, as a place “blanketed” by VM coverage. That’s why it rings bell with me.

      Just checking, it looks like it has 33 cabinets, of which 31 have been put live by BDUK, with 1 additional cabinet in a later phase of BDUK plans (which looks to be incorporating EO lines). The last cabinet isn’t in the plans at all … so there are no commercial cabinets on the exchange.

      Samknows reports 10,000 lines, and partial VM coverage.

      The Staffordshire project has published their maps for phase 2. If Rugeley was originally blanketed by VM and has now been blanketed by BT under the guises of BDUK, you’d expect the new “superfast” map ought to be completely black in the town, right? With 2 suppliers? Well, there are certainly black patches but, to my eye, it doesn’t come close to meriting the adjective “blanketed”. A few of the black patches are big enough to make me question some of the cabinets, but by no means all of them.

      http://www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk/public-consultation#.VWZPPOh0NpU

    • Steve Jones

      Looking at the detailed deployment map, an awful lot of Rugeley is in grey. But if the regulations are so relaxed as to allow areas with 90% existing NGA coverage to be state aided, then that would allow for a huge amount of overbuild. I would imagine there’s a very large number of cabinets whose footprint has 10% or more not covered by VM.

      Reading the press releases, I do wonder if some of the difference between what is a BDUK and what is a commercial one hasn’t been rather fudged. It’s probably in the interests of politicians to claim as much benefit as possible, and BT to facilitate that in the interests of not creating waves. It would not surprise me in the least if BT’s contribution in the bid included what they were going to do commercially. Unfortunately, as all these financial numbers are under commercial confidentiality rules, it’s difficult to know what goes on under the covers.

    • MikeW

      @Steve
      I suspect you are looking at the deployment map for phase 2 (SEP), where grey areas now include the rollout of BDUK phase 1. Much of the “grey” in Rugeley will come from BT’s subsidised rollout there (as there is no non-subsidised rollout), while much of the black will come from both the BT subsidised rollout *and* the original VM coverage.

      @Phil
      On the matter of Rugeley overbuild specifically… if that is where you were talking about…

      It looks like this issue has been raised at higher levels, and investigated by BDUK and BT. The recent Oxera report to the EU mentions it specifically:

      A further potential compliance issue has been raised regarding overbuild and
      overlap with Virgin Media infrastructure in Rugeley (Staffordshire). Oxera has
      been advised that BDUK investigated the matter in detail with BT. It was found
      that the coverage within the Virgin Media footprint was incidental to the
      legitimate targeting of white premises within the intervention area and that
      there were no other white premises within the intervention area that could be
      targeted for a similar level of public subsidy (or less) with less distortive effects.

      This can be found on page 256 on the report, linked from this ISPReview article:
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/05/independent-analysis-of-uk-fibre-broadband-rollout-rules-bduk-is-effective.html

      Pages 24-29 detail a lot of other potential overbuild/mapping issues.

  4. The takeup amongst the 10-15mbps FTTC segment of my exchange is probably close to 40%. I don’t find 12mbps problematic at all in day to day use and do not need any more. That is not to say I wouldn’t take up a higher speed service if it became available though.

  5. PeterM

    It is very important that momentum is maintained between the phases of the BDUK roll out. BDUK1 has been the easy bit, mainly involving upgrading cabinets and exchange only lines.
    BDUK2 will be far more difficult and will involve thousands of little jobs. Something that will be far more of a challenge to Openreach.
    It is important, therefore, that as counties finish BDUK1 they are very proactive in heralding their achievements and make a big push to increase uptake to well over the 20% threshold. Otherwise I fear the politicians may pull the plug on further funding.

  6. Snipit

    I live in devolved area,FTTC has been avaible since last September. I upgraded within couple of weeks. I had the first general flyer from an ISP lask week, informing me FTTC is now available

    • Steve Jones

      It may be deliberate to delay publicity to avoid a sudden flood of orders overloading the resources. As it is, the early adopters will have been keeping themselves informed, and once that demand has been fulfilled then a wider marketing campaign can start.

      Something rather similar seemed to happen when my local (commercial) cabinet was enabled, there was a delay of several months before I was called about upgrading.

  7. Portynews

    Is there any web link to these actual figures?

  8. Al

    Perhaps uptake figures are increasing because they moved into areas which where on ADSLMax, as mentioned above if you are on a decent ADSL2/2+ connection you might not feel the need to upgrade if you are stuck on ADSLMax it’s a far bigger jump in speed.

    Still wating for my area to be enabled, still superfast lancashire say they’ll finish the main phase by the end of June. I’m not holding my breath for my cabinet to be enabled by then, they haven’t even installed it yet, despite the foundation being laid on the 19th Nov Last year. I spotted their signs.

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