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Q2 2017 – BDUK Extend “Superfast Broadband” to 4.55 Million UK Premises

Thursday, August 24th, 2017 (10:34 am) - Score 1,086

The Government’s £1.6bn+ Broadband Delivery UK programme has published its latest progress update to the end of June 2017, which confirms that the scheme has so far helped 4,551,226 extra premises across the United Kingdom to be put within reach of a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network.

Today it’s estimated that approximately 93%+ of premises in the United Kingdom can access a fixed line superfast broadband connection and BDUK’s goal is to cover 95% by the end of 2017, before potentially rising to around 97% by 2020. Meanwhile the Government seems intent to tackle the final 3% via a mix of alternative network providers (altnets) and the forthcoming 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Otherwise most of the BDUK linked deployments have been supported by Openreach’s (BT) ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) and a small bit of their 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology. More recently we’ve seen altnets like Gigaclear, Call Flow, UKB Networks and Airband win a number of contracts and we expect to see more of that going forward, particularly around the final 3% of premises where BT may struggle.

Q2 2017 Progress Report

The “premises passed” figure used below only reflects those homes and businesses (premises) able to access “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+ as a result of BDUK linked investment (i.e. it excludes those that have benefited but which only receive sub-24Mbps speeds). Similarly the data excludes “overspill effects” of BDUK-supported projects on premises which already have superfast broadband.

NOTE: The table only shows state aid from the Government’s project (BDUK) and does NOT include match-funding from local councils, the EU and other public or even private sources.

bduk superfast broadband uk performance update q2 2017

The headline figures used above are said to be cash based (i.e. when grants are made or budgets transferred). On an accruals basis, which matches costs incurred to the timing of delivery, cumulative BDUK expenditure to the end of June 2017 has been estimated as £590,305,914 and that equates to 7,710 premises covered per £million of BDUK expenditure (expenditure is higher for this because the work has been delivered in advance of payment).

The roll-out pace has slowed over the past year but that is not a surprise because the programme is now focusing on the most challenging rural and some tedious sub-urban locations (e.g. Exchange Only Lines), which take longer to reach, cost more and deliver fewer premises passed in the same space of time.

There’s also a question mark over the impact of clawback (gainshare) on the figures, which forces BT to return some of their public investment when take-up goes beyond the 20% mark in related areas. So far up to £465 million could potentially be returned (here), which can then be reinvested into further broadband improvements. Most of this may be used to bridge the gap between 95% and 97% coverage by 2020.

NOTE 1: Prior to BDUK the commercial market (i.e. purely private investment) had already enabled operators like BT and Virgin Media to extend the reach of superfast broadband to around 70% of UK premises. However the major operators’ tend to view many of those in the final 30% as being “not commercially viable,” hence the reason for BDUK being setup to boost the roll-out via public investment.

NOTE 2: Future deployment phases, such as those aiming to deliver coverage above 95%, will be adopting the slightly improved 30Mbps+ definition for “superfast broadband“. The EU and Ofcom have been using this definition for many years, although official BDUK contracts were slow to do the same.

NOTE 3: The above expenditure figures exclude support for Connection Vouchers, the Mobile Infrastructure Project, the Rural Communities Broadband Fund, the Market Test Pilots and DCMS administrative expenditure.

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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
8 Responses
  1. craski says:

    More cumulative figures 🙂

    I’m just wondering how long it will be before somebody adds all these cumulative figures together on their calculator and concludes the figures must be wrong because the UK doesn’t have 42.7 million premises …

    1. New_Londoner says:

      It’s a tough concept, we need Big Al to explain it! 😉

  2. Jeff says:

    Final 3% where Openreach/BT may struggle- how come the Altnets can put in the infrastructure??? Not so much struggling to do it but don’t want too…

    1. TheManStan says:

      AltNets = small and agile companies which are adaptable

      Big Companies = inertia and one size fits all (or a few sizes fits all) arrangements

    2. New_Londoner says:

      Some of the altnets charge pretty substantial connection fees as well as more per month. The ability to keep all the ISP retail revenue helps with the commercial case too.

  3. MikeW says:

    Ref Note 1: “the commercial market … to around 70% of UK premises”

    This slideshow is the most recent “status” update I’ve found from BDUK, from Feb:

    DCMS believe the figure to be about 76%:
    – 9% VM only
    – 30% BT only
    – 1% altnet only
    – 36% Both BT and VM

    I suspect that BT’s commercial rollouts (like the LEP) means that VM’s 9% is likely to be diminishing, while project Lightning might mean BT’s 30% is diminishing too.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Well spotted, useful too. Figured they were probably closer to 75% but I’ve not seen any hard figures for a few years from BDUK.. until now.

    2. Steve Jones says:

      What that misses out is to what extent there is some inevitable overlap between BDUK and VM simply because VM and BT cabinet footprints don’t match. I assume BDUK won’t count any such overlaps in its stats, but it surely can’t be zero. I also assume that some of the project Lightning deployments might overlap BDUK enabled areas.

      It might mean more premises have a choice of SF network operators than those stats show.

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