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Q3 2016 Take-up Figures for the BDUK Roll-out of Superfast Broadband

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 (2:24 pm) - Score 1,297

The Government’s £1.7bn state aid supported Broadband Delivery UK programme has released its latest Q3 2016 take-up data for the roll-out of superfast broadband (24Mbps+) services across the United Kingdom, which shows strong adoption and that will help reinvestment.

The latest figures predominantly reflect take-up (i.e. % subscribed of premises passed by new BDUK supported networks) of superfast connectivity in areas that have been upgraded through the now completed Phase One of the scheme with BT (90% UK coverage by spring 2016), which has predominantly been installing its ‘up to’ 40-80Mbps capable FTTC and a tiny bit of 330Mbps FTTP technology.

On top of that we also have early data for parts of the Phase Two (95% UK coverage by 2017/18) “Superfast Extension Programme“, which is now starting to ramp-up. It’s worth pointing out that Phase Two isn’t completely dominated by BT (Openreach) and a number of alternative network providers (Gigaclear, Call Flow etc.) are helping out in various areas (e.g. Berkshire and Gloucestershire).

Understanding take-up remains crucial because it links into the clawback (gainshare) mechanism of BDUK’s local authority contracts, which requires suppliers (e.g. BT) to return part of the public investment when adoption of the new service passes beyond the 20% mark. The funding can then be reinvested to further improve coverage and service speeds via future contracts.

At the last count the clawback mechanism was on course to return over £292 million (see today’s related news) and it’s been predicted that the related reinvestment from this could help to take the coverage of superfast broadband networks from 95% by 2017/18 to 97% of the UK by the end of 2020.

Otherwise the following list breaks the take-up data down 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 for each local authority. So far BDUK has helped to expand “fibre” (FTTC/P) services to 4.5 million UK premises and some 4.2m of those are 24Mbps+ capable (here).

NOTE: Some of the counties have divided their roll-outs into separate projects / contracts. For example, Phase One in Shropshire doesn’t include the ‘Telford and Wrekin’ area because that is part of a separate Phase Two contract in the same county.

BDUK Phase One Take-up (Average %)

Project Area (BDUK PHASE 1) Uptake% (Dec 2015) Uptake% (Mar 2016) Uptake% (Jun 2016) Uptake% (Sep 2016)
Berkshire Councils 23.2 31.5 34.8 40
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire 23.2 29.9 34.1 38.1
Cambridgeshire, Peterborough 24.1 35.2 34.7 37.5
Central Beds, Bedford Borough, Milton Keynes 21.1 29 31 34.7
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton 20.5 32.6 35 36.6
Devon & Somerset (including, Plymouth, Torbay, North Somerset, Bath & NE Somerset) 16.8 22.5 24.4 28.7
Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire 20.1 32 32.9 36.4
Cumbria 17.3 25 27.5 32.3
Derbyshire 14.6 20.1 22.5 27.4
Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole 15.7 21.9 24.1 29
Durham, Gateshead, Tees Valley and Sunderland 15.2 21 22.8 27.8
East Riding of Yorkshire 17.4 27.2 30.3 32.1
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove 21 27.6 29.4 34.4
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock 18 23.6 26.7 32.1
Greater Manchester 18.8 24.7 28.5 23.4
Hampshire 21.9 28.2 31.5 34.2
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 16.7 22.9 24.1 28.3
Isle of Wight 13.9 19.8 22.7 26.5
Kent and Medway 16.9 26.7 29.8 33.6
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen 19.3 31.1 32.9 29.3
Leicestershire 20.2 27.1 30.8 33.7
Lincolnshire 20 27 29.6 34
Merseyside 12.8 24.4 26.4 23
Newcastle upon Tyne 10.6 25.7 28 24.9
Norfolk 20.8 28 30.2 34.4
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire 24.4 30.6 32.8 33.9
North Yorkshire 25.2 32 37.1 39.1
Northamptonshire 28.2 36.7 40.1 39.2
Northumberland 22.9 28 30.8 36
Nottinghamshire 18.8 26.8 29.7 33.2
Oxfordshire 24.4 26.1 33.9 37.6
Rutland 44.1 51.7 53.8 51.5
Shropshire 20.4 27 29.1 32.6
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent 15.7 23.9 26.8 28.8
Suffolk 18.9 31.5 33.6 36.5
Surrey 32.5 42.2 44.2 42.8
West Sussex 22.7 23.2 33.9 37.1
West Yorkshire 14.4 27.7 30.4 28.2
Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire 20.5 37.5 34.8 36.1
Worcestershire 19.1 25.6 26.2 31.1
Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands 16.1 21.6 22.9 28.1
Northern Ireland 18.2 19.3 27.3 31.1
Rest of Scotland 14.6 20.9 22.3 25.8
Wales 24.7 22.4 26.4 28.8

BDUK Phase Two Take-up (Average %)

Project Area (BDUK Phase 2) Uptake% (Mar 2016) Uptake% (Jun 2016) Uptake% (Sep 2016)
Black Country 5.7 6.7 6.5
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire 3.6
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton 22 22.1 19.8
Cornwall 9.6
Cumbria 5
Derbyshire 2.5
Durham (including North and South Tyneside) 2.5
East Riding of Yorkshire 10.5 13.6
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove 6.4
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock 9
Hampshire 0.3 9.2
Kent and Medway 6.9 8.3 13.1
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen 1.8 6.9
Leicestershire 7.1 11.4
Lincolnshire 4.8 7.4
Norfolk 18.6 16.5 20.3
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire 7.3 8.9
North Yorkshire 24.9
Northamptonshire 15.6 11.4
Northumberland 38.5
Nottinghamshire 6.9 13.2
South Gloucestershire 16.2 15.3 16
South Yorkshire 4.2 9.2 12.2
Suffolk 12.5 12.4 16.6
Telford & Wrekin 5.7 7.7 11.5
Warwickshire, Solihull and Coventry 8.6 12.8
West Sussex 16.2
West Yorkshire 4.5 9.8
Wiltshire 0.2 0.2 6.9
Worcestershire 2.3

NOTE: The Phase 2 take-up for Northern Ireland is 11.7%, although we don’t have any related data for the other Devolved Administrations and so haven’t given them a table.

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.

Explained 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. Some contracts are also younger than others and will thus take time to catch-up. However BDUK’s roll-out pace is also starting to slow as they reach tricky rural areas (Phase 2), which will give take-up a chance to climb in Phase 1.

A number of other factors can also impact take-up, such as the higher prices for related “fibre” services, as well as customers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP (they 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. However the scale of this issue is very small.

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    Doing a very quick and dirty averaging of the take-up figures for phase 1 England for each period and then annualising them (as it’s only 9 months), I get a 17.5% increase in take-up, which is surely much higher than many anticipated. If that rate continues (which must be a little doubtful) then it would hit 50% in a year’s time (the average of the phase 1 take-up in England stands at 33.4%).

    nb. I’m well aware that this is not a fully accurate average as I’ve no figures to weight each area, but as a broad picture it will be in the right area unless smaller project areas have disproportionately higher take-up (he says, eying Rutland).

    1. Patrick Cosgrove says:

      And that will mean many more millions of clawback money. But two questions continue to bug me. The first is to what extent are local bodies obliged to spend clawback on extending or upgrading provision. The second is where that leaves areas commercially supplied by wireless, therefore excluded from public subsidy. In the latter case, might the answer depend on whether they were helped by the Basic Broadband Scheme which, I believe, is exempt from EU state aid regs because of de minimis rules. I just have a feeling that there might be rural pockets that will remain excluded from FTTP.

  2. fastman says:

    partick there are some . I just have a feeling that there might be rural pockets that will remain excluded )form anything) — as they have “supposedly been covered by wireless” not sure who the voucher work as postcode will assume them covered

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