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UPDATE The Q4 2015 BDUK and BT UK “Superfast Broadband” Take-up Figures

Thursday, March 24th, 2016 (7:18 am) - Score 2,081

The Government has today published its latest Q4 2015 uptake figures for their state aid supported roll-out of superfast (24Mbps+) capable “fibre broadband” services across the United Kingdom, which shows that many local authorities are passing the key 20% threshold.

As usual the following figures ONLY reflect take-up (customer subscriptions) of superfast connectivity in areas that have been upgraded through Phase One of the Broadband Delivery UK scheme with BT (i.e. % subscribed of premises passed by BDUK), which has predominantly been rolling out its up to 80Mbps FTTC and some 330Mbps FTTP technology.

Understanding take-up is important because it links into the clawback (gain share) mechanism in BDUK’s contracts, which requires BT to return part of the investment when adoption of the new service passes beyond the 20% mark in related areas.

Initially around £129 million is being returned to local authorities by BT via clawback (more money will be returned as the % of uptake grows) and this can thus be used to help further improve the coverage of faster broadband connectivity across the UK.

The following list breaks down the take-up by each BDUK local authority / project area, although for the proper context these percentages should ideally be considered alongside the most recent premises passed (network coverage) data. At the end of last year BDUK and BT put an additional 3.62 million premises (here) within reach of the faster connectivity, although sadly we don’t have a breakdown of those figures by each local authority (you can usually find this on the individual project websites).

As usual we’ve added the results from previous quarters to help show the change over time, but make sure to read the note at the end for some vital context. In addition, BDUK has so far only provided the Q4 2015 data for England (we will add the latest figures for Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland when they publish it).

Project Area Uptake % (Mar 2015) Uptake % (Jun 2015) Uptake % (Sep 2015) Uptake % (Dec 2015)
Berkshire Councils 11.2 18.5 16.6 23.2
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire 15 18.7 19.6 23.2
Cambridgeshire, Peterborough 19.5 23.1 23.9 24.1
Central Beds, Bedford Borough, Milton Keynes 13.4 17.2 18.2 21.1
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton 16.1 18.4 20.4 20.5
Devon & Somerset (including, Plymouth, Torbay, North Somerset, Bath & NE Somerset) 13.3 14.8 14.9 16.8
Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire 15.9 17.2 17.2 20.1
Cumbria 17.3 19.2 16.8 17.3
Derbyshire 9.1 11 12.6 14.6
Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole 12.9 14.3 12.9 15.7
Durham, Gateshead, Tees Valley and Sunderland 11.3 13.4 14.8 15.2
East Riding of Yorkshire 8 12.1 13.8 17.4
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove 13.9 16.4 17.3 21
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock 11.2 14.3 15.1 18
Greater Manchester 8.5 11.4 12.8 18.8
Hampshire 17.6 19.3 16.7 21.9
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 20.3 20.9 16.7 16.7
Isle of Wight 6.5 8.2 10.2 13.9
Kent and Medway 13.7 16.2 16.9 16.9
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen 14.3 15.4 14.8 19.3
Leicestershire 10.4 16.3 17.9 20.2
Lincolnshire 12.9 15.7 17.2 20
Merseyside 6.7 8.9 10 12.8
Newcastle upon Tyne 5.8 8.1 10.6 10.6
Norfolk 14.9 18.2 18 20.8
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire 15.3 19.2 21 24.4
North Yorkshire 23.5 25.6 25.2 25.2
Northamptonshire 21.3 23.3 25.7 28.2
Northumberland 16.1 18.4 19.8 22.9
Nottinghamshire 9.7 14.2 16 18.8
Oxfordshire 16.2 18.2 20.1 24.4
Rutland 39.8 42.3 42.3 44.1
Shropshire 16.9 19 18.5 20.4
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent 10.7 13.3 14.1 15.7
Suffolk 17.1 17.9 18.9 18.9
Surrey 27.1 29.8 29.7 32.5
West Sussex 14.9 18 19.4 22.7
West Yorkshire 10.7 12.1 14.4 14.4
Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire 18.7 16.1 22.8 20.5
Worcestershire 12.5 15.6 17.8 19.1
Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands 11.6 13.1 14.6 16.1
Northern Ireland 8.5 9.6 13.5 18.2
Rest of Scotland 10.8 12.3 13.5 14.6
Wales 13.7 15.6 23.1 24.7

IMPORTANT: Take-up is a dynamically scaled measurement, which means that at certain stages of the scheme it may go up or even down depending upon the pace of deployment (i.e. premises passed in any given time-scale), although over time the take-up should only rise.

Put another way, early phases of the roll-out are easier and faster to deploy, so you can expect to see a bit of a yo-yo movement with the take-up % sometimes falling if lots of new areas are suddenly covered. Likewise younger contracts can also be expected to report lower take-up. However BDUK’s roll-out pace is now starting to slow because they’re reaching rural areas, which should give take-up a chance to climb.

A number of other factors that can also impact take-up, such as the higher prices for related FTTC/P services (less attractive for consumers), customers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP (can’t upgrade immediately) and a lack of general availability awareness (locals don’t know it exists) or interest in the new connectivity (if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed then you might feel less inclined to upgrade).

In other cases the new service may run out of capacity (i.e. demand is higher than expected), which means that people who want to upgrade are prevented from doing so until Openreach resolves the problem.

NOTE: No uptake data currently exists for the most recent Phase 2 BDUK contracts (95% UK coverage target) because most of those are far too young and have yet to even commence the deployment phase.

UPDATE:

The data for Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland has just been added.

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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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13 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Good to see more counties going over 20%. It’s about time some start announcing where they’re spending the “clawback” or “gain share” money so we can see how the coverage is expanding.

    This is definitely a model that other public sector contracts ought to follow.

    • I suspect some may be linking clawback reinvestment to Phase 3 contracts and waiting for the new EU state aid agreement before announcing anything. Expected around May 2016.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @New_Londonder Indeed although while phase 1 became 4m of the 6m intervention area remains odd, given the budgets available. Councils need to have faith in BT’s willingness and ability to do FTTP in the form of FTTdp.

      Good to see you BT have confirmed average costs at £26,000 for FTTC cab; looking forward to BT capital contribution being confirmed and audited.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Does clawback have to go through a new EU state aid approval?

      In reality it is state money that was included in the phase 1 contract (whether physically handed over yet, or not), and has been approved as aid already.

      The existing contracts allow for the partners to re-invest clawback; I’d expect the existing EU approval of the phase 1 contracts to have automatically approved this re-investment.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @MikeW

      The existing state aid rules will, of course, cover the existing BDUK contracts so will allow for reinvestment under those contracts within the original intervention areas and over the time period for the contract. If any work is done outside those contracts (and a BDUK phase 3 might well not), then this might not.

      It’s all rather unclear, but for sure BT will be intent on getting the money reinvested within the existing contracts as that’s in their interests to extend the network and also helps the USO issue.

    • Avatar gerarda

      Suffolk are doing an OMR on where they are spending the clawback money. Although they have to publish the documents and indeed have given a tentative coverage plan, they have not made much noise about. I suspect this is because it confirms which postcodes have been left out due to BDUK’s insistence on using the wrong solution for rural areas.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @Steve, what is your understanding of the original intervention area? If Suffolk said phase 1 is X and phase 2 is Y, which is covered by SA33671, what is being asked for now and under what state aid measure given the Oxera report was not convincing enough to have SA33671 extended.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Intervention areas were effectively defined following the OMR. It doesn’t mean that there might not be some trimming down of this where alternative networks have become available in the interim.

      I’m not sure if there was a formal request to extend the state aid ruling, but that would only apply to new contracts anyway, not existing contracts provided that they conform to state aid rules (if they don’t, then it could be open to legal action at the European level).

      As I understand it, the Oxera report was commissioned primarily to establish if the existing contracts were being operated within the EU state aid rules which does, of course, include issues of overlap with alternative networks as well as auditing, value for money, impact on competition and the like. No doubt any new EU state aid issues for broadband infrastructure will require some refinement. It would be astonishing if it was all done right the first time and conditions change.

      I also suspect that the USO proposals could also require clearing at the EU level as that could have lots of competition issues.

      In the meantime, I don’t see there’s any barrier to BDUK projects using clawback money against the current BDUK contracts if that’s what they propose to do provided it’s done within the current framework would due regard to any changes (like the aforementioned appearance of alternative networks in the interim).

      Of course this leaves the issues of poorly served spots outside the intervention areas which can’t be dealt with under the existing frameworks.

  2. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove

    I’ve not heard any more about BT offering the clawback for 30% even if only 20% has been achieved, but conditional on the money being spent with BT. If Mark is right, which I hope he is, it does suggest that at least some local authorities will use clawback for more appropriate technologies than Openreach can offer. Is this when hybrid approaches of fibre plus wireless get a proper look in?

    • Avatar MikeW

      The BT offer seems to be “We’ll hand over clawback assuming 30% *now*, provided you re-spend it with us”.

      The existing contract terms seem to be “We’ll assess clawback money, using 20%, after 3 years, then on every second anniversary; any money due is put into a pot, and the council can extract a maximum of 50% at a time. After 10 years, the whole pot can be extracted”

      If a council wants to look at alternative suppliers, then they’ll have to follow the contract terms, so might find it takes a while for the money to pop out into their hands.

  3. Avatar Matthias

    No data for the South Yorkshire roll out?

  4. All the data i have seen here is like that on http://www.moviesvine.com/

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