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Q1 2019 BDUK Superfast Broadband Adoption Progress by UK Region

Friday, July 5th, 2019 (2:52 pm) - Score 2,684
united kingdom broadband connectivity

The Building Digital UK scheme, which since 2013 has helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to 5,123,530 extra premises (up by +46.9K since Q4 2018), has just published its latest take-up data to the end of March 2019. Coverage continues to grow, albeit slowly as contracts near their end.

The figures below reflect the percentage of homes and businesses that have chosen to take a superfast broadband service (usually delivered via FTTC, FTTPfull fibre” or Fixed Wireless Access), specifically those which have been delivered via support from the BDUK programme (i.e. % subscribed of premises passed).

This data is split between the first two phases of the programme and some more recent extension contracts. Phase 1 was broadly dominated by Openreach’s (BT), while the on-going Phase 2 contracts have attracted a mix of extension deals alongside BT and several alternative network providers. Later phases also have a much bigger focus on remote rural areas and now involve a lot more FTTP to reflect the Government’s changing priorities.

We should also point out that older BDUK contracts defined “superfast” as offering download speeds of greater than 24Mbps+, although more recent ones have increased this to 30Mbps+ in order to align with the definition used by Ofcom and the EU. Admittedly in today’s market of “full fibre” focused deployments (usually 1000Mbps+ capable) the definition of “superfast” does tend to feel out of date.

BDUK Phases 1 (Finished Spring 2016)

Supported by £530m of public money via the Government (mostly extracted from a small slice of the BBC TV Licence fee), as well as significant match funding from local authorities and the EU. The public funding is then roughly matched by BT’s private investment. Overall it helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to cover 90% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom.

BDUK Phase 2 (Technically on-going)

Supported by £250m of public money via the Government, as well as match funding from local authorities, Local Growth Deals and private investment from suppliers (e.g. BT, Gigaclear, Airband, Call Flow etc.). This phase extended superfast broadband services to 95% of premises in time for the end of 2017, although some contracts are on-going until c.2020 and will reach beyond 95%.

The BDUK contracts also include a clawback (gainshare) clause, which requires the suppliers to return part of the public investment as customer adoption of the new service rises. The funding can then be reinvested to further improve network coverage and speeds via future deals. Efficiency savings from earlier contracts can also be reinvested.

So far it looks as if a total of around £721m could in theory be returned via clawback from BT and more than £210m (Jan 2018 figure) from efficiency savings, which may rise again in the future (details here and here). BDUK has estimated that this reinvestment might be enough to boost the UK coverage of fixed line superfast broadband networks to around 97% by March 2020 (possibly 98%+ after that), but this is not an official target.

bduk impact march 2019

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) mentioned above is a reference to the Government’s new legally-binding pledge to ensure that those in the final 2-3% of premises, which may not benefit from BDUK’s effort, can request a download speed of at least 10Mbps. This is due to be introduced from the end of 2019 (details here).

BDUK Phase 1 Take-up (Average %)

The following tables break the take-up data down by each BDUK local authority (project area) and devolved region (Scotland, Wales etc.), although for the proper context these percentages should ideally be considered alongside the most recent premises passed (network coverage) data, which can be seen at the bottom of this article. Overall 57.67% premises have adopted the new service (up from 55.25% in December 2018).

NOTE: Some of the counties have divided their deployments into separate 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 inside the same county. On top of that the contracts were all signed at different times and so are at different stages of development.

Project Area (BDUK Phase 1) Uptake % (Sep 2018) Uptake % (Dec 2018) Uptake % (Mar 2019)
Berkshire Councils 58.6 61.2 63.7
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire 60.8 63.6 66.5
Cambridgeshire, Peterborough 56 58.4 61
Central Beds, Bedford Borough, Milton Keynes 60.2 63.2 66.1
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton 57.9 60.9 63.4
Devon & Somerset (including, Plymouth, Torbay, North Somerset, Bath & NE Somerset) 51.7 54.7 57.7
Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire 59.8 63.1 65.6
Cumbria 52.4 55.5 58.3
Derbyshire 50.1 53.3 56.5
Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole 51.8 54.7 57.6
Durham, Gateshead, Tees Valley and Sunderland 50.3 53.4 56.5
East Riding of Yorkshire 54.3 57.6 60.7
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove 57.6 60.5 63.3
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock 56.5 59.6 62.5
Greater Manchester 44.9 48.8 52.1
Hampshire 54.5 57.4 60.4
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 52.2 54.9 57.6
Isle of Wight 49.4 52.6 55.5
Kent and Medway 55.3 58.3 61.1
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen 48.5 51.6 54.5
Leicestershire 55.9 58.7 61.6
Lincolnshire 55.1 57.9 60.7
Merseyside 44 47.3 50.4
Newcastle upon Tyne 46.6 50.1 52.8
Norfolk 54.9 57.8 60.6
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire 53.9 56.8 59.1
North Yorkshire 55.7 58.2 58.2
Northamptonshire 59.2 61.9 64.5
Northumberland 56 59.2 61.8
Nottinghamshire 55 57.6 60.3
Oxfordshire 58.6 61.6 64.5
Rutland 63 65.4 67.3
Shropshire 52.7 55.8 58.7
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent 52 54.9 57.9
Suffolk 56.7 59.6 62.2
Surrey 60 62.6 64.8
West Sussex 58.9 62 64.6
West Yorkshire 49 52.6 55.4
Wiltshire 57.3 60 62.6
South Gloucestershire 59.7 62.4 64.6
Worcestershire 57.4 60.3 63.3
Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands 50.7 54.4 57.7
Northern Ireland 50.3 64 66
Rest of Scotland 45.8 49.2 52.6
Wales 49.8 51.8 51.8

BDUK Phase 2 Take-up (Average %)

So far in this phase an overall total of 42.11% (up from 39.59% in December 2018) of premises have adopted the new service and some projects have yet to report. We note that a number of Phase 2 schemes also consist of more than one contract type and so you may see several figures being reported for certain areas in order to reflect each of those deals.

Project Area (BDUK Phase 2) Uptake % (Sep 2018) Uptake % (Dec 2018) Uptake % (Mar 2019)
Berkshire 23.7, 4.3, 6.4 24.9, 5.6, 15.1 26, 6, 22.2
Black Country 32.3 36.7 40.9
Bucks & Herts 34.4 39.7 45
Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes 37.3 40.8 46
Cambridgeshire no data no data no data
Cheshire 41.7 46.4 49.5
Cornwall 39.1, 16.2 44.1, 19.8 48, 23.6
Cumbria 34.7 38 41.8
Derbyshire 30.7 34.6 38.2
Devon & Somerset 10.1 10.1, 17.5 10.1, 4, 24
Dorset 40.3 47.2, 3.5 52.9, 1.4
Durham 31 36.9 42.1
East Riding (Yorkshire) 44.6 49.3 53.1
East Sussex 51.1 52.1 51.3
Essex 36.7, 27.7 40.2, 28.7, 9 44.5, 34, 9, 0.7
Greater Manchester no data no data no data
Hampshire 33.8 38.1 42.5
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire 35, 10.7, 3.4 11.3, 4.8, 7.6, 0.2 38, 11.3, 5, 4,11.4, 12.3
Kent 43.5 50.1 55.4
Lancashire 35.6 37.6 41.1
Leicestershire 32.1 36.8 41.4
Lincolnshire 31.5 36.9 42
Norfolk 41.9 45.1 49.8
North Lincolnshire 33.7 38.9 43.1
North Yorkshire 52.9 56.4, 0.9 56.4, 11.6
Northamptonshire 42.5, 8.9, 17.8 46.7, 10, 15.5 50.5, 11, 23
Northumberland 42.4 42.7 45.6
Nottinghamshire 40.8 42.4 44.7
Oxfordshire no data no data no data
Rutland no data no data no data
Shropshire 32.2 38.9, 2.2 43.6, 2.2
South Gloucestershire 38.3, 31.6 44.2, 19.3 47.6, 19.9
South Yorkshire 35.6 35.6 43.4
Staffordshire 37.8 39.7 43.4
Suffolk 41.6 45.6 49.5
Swindon 8.2 8.7 9
Telford & Wrekin 45.6 50.7 55.7
Warwickshire 40.8 40.7, 1.1 45.8, 1.1
West Oxfordshire no data 7 7
West Sussex 41.7 47 47
West Yorkshire 33.1 37.2 40.8
Wiltshire 38.1 42.6, 0.6 46.7, 4.4
Worcestershire 44.7 48.3 51.7
Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands no data no data no data
Northern Ireland 32.5 38.4 42.9
Rest of Scotland no data no data no data
Wales no data no data no data

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, earlier phases of the roll-out were easier and faster to deploy, so you could expect to see a bit of a yo-yo movement with the take-up % sometimes falling if lots of new areas were suddenly covered. Some contracts are also younger than others and will thus take time to catch-up. On top of that BDUK’s roll-out pace has slowed to a crawl as it reaches remote rural areas, which will give take-up a chance to climb.

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 awareness (locals don’t always know that the faster service exists) or interest in the new connectivity (if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed and only basic needs then you might feel less inclined to upgrade).

The fear of switching to a different ISP may also obstruct some services. 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, although the scale of this issue is fairly small.

Now, for some context, here’s the latest progress report on related contracts for the same period (this excludes related match-funding from private investment).

Funding and Premises Passed Progress (BDUK Phase 1 + 2)

Total BDUK Contracted Funding Total Local Body Funding (Councils etc.) Total Contracted premises Delivered to Mar 2019
Bedford & Milton Keynes £8,130,000 £9,443,694 56,269 50,657
Berkshire £5,153,017 £4,603,250 43,723 30,440
Black Country £2,988,349 £2,988,349 39,109 37,350
Bucks & Herts £10,837,000 £11,415,000 94,428 85,254
Cambridgeshire £8,250,000 £17,750,000 105,850 103,141
Cheshire £6,461,000 £16,091,055 82,468 81,388
Cornwall £5,960,000 £12,529,786 15,288 11,018
Cumbria £19,959,519 £18,798,000 120,065 119,927
Derbyshire £9,579,550 £9,580,000 103,755 94,774
Devon & Somerset £58,111,798 £40,910,985 344,835 291,766
Dorset £13,741,841 £12,349,470 80,085 76,547
Durham £12,786,267 £11,763,000 112,898 111,682
East Riding (Yorkshire) £10,507,459 £5,193,079 49,510 49,311
East Sussex £13,640,000 £13,000,000 70,040 63,013
Essex £14,254,755 £14,254,755 155,871 127,022
Greater Manchester £3,440,000 £5,923,000 41,363 40,062
Hampshire £15,262,307 £14,220,615 106,434 93,979
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire £31,090,658 £27,305,290 152,367 126,818
Highlands & Islands £50,830,000 £75,600,000 149,730 146,169
Isle of Wight £2,490,000 £2,490,000 17,617 17,649
Kent £17,063,509 £14,998,391 137,881 138,202
Lancashire £14,670,000 £22,540,000 147,334 143,987
Leicestershire £7,968,895 £10,884,647 73,641 72,760
Lincolnshire £16,110,000 £17,910,000 137,949 133,058
Merseyside £5,460,000 £4,374,000 43,905 43,966
Newcastle £970,000 £945,131 6,760 6,697
Norfolk £24,650,000 £24,210,000 203,201 194,338
North Lincolnshire £4,181,242 £1,880,963 29,442 29,257
North Yorkshire £28,160,000 £14,654,726 175,283 166,847
Northamptonshire £9,856,669 £11,009,000 79,349 73,807
Northern Ireland £11,454,000 £21,954,000 66,907 67,173
Northumberland £10,687,867 £11,986,750 49,620 47,763
Nottinghamshire £7,850,000 £9,288,644 69,401 66,743
Oxfordshire £8,184,500 £13,924,500 78,007 77,291
Rest of Scotland £50,000,000 £107,575,000 572,563 577,343
Rutland £1,000,000 £1,670,000 10,004 9,364
Shropshire £19,317,466 £12,722,000 69,782 65,217
South Gloucestershire £3,370,000 £3,521,123 21,673 18,847
South Yorkshire £10,395,000 £13,353,577 105,390 92,613
Staffordshire £9,620,000 £7,440,000 82,371 77,924
Suffolk £26,940,000 £26,044,703 126,812 120,546
Surrey £1,310,000 £19,020,081 78,245 76,674
Swindon £950,000 £950,000 20,138 17,010
Telford & Wrekin £2,157,000 £1,843,000 8,822 8,698
Wales £69,040,000 £176,913,075 754,791 700,364
Warwickshire £14,557,172 £14,557,172 74,301 57,862
West Oxfordshire £1,600,000 £1,556,675 4,788 1,599
West Sussex £8,011,243 £7,510,000 54,533 53,006
West Yorkshire £11,019,827 £11,175,487 103,485 93,130
Wiltshire £9,270,000 £16,496,000 83,610 75,372
Worcestershire £8,387,032 £11,390,000 66,561 58,105
£717,684,942 £940,507,973 5,478,254 5,123,530

The above figures only include 24Mbps+ capable premises in BDUK intervention areas.

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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 AnotherTim

    Well it is nice to see some progress in the Fastershire area (Herefordshire & Gloucestershire), with an additional 2344 premises passed in Q1. If they can keep that up they might cover all planned properties in 3 years.

  2. Avatar Archie

    What’s Virgin over Openreach?

    • Avatar John

      “What’s Virgin over Openreach?”

      I would guess areas where both operators have coverage?

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      Virgin Business will (or at least have done in the past) provide FTTC connections in areas that are not covered by the Virgin Media cable.

    • Avatar CarlT

      As noted, areas where VM and Openreach both offer SFBB.

      Looks a big understatement given VM cover over 50% of the country though.

  3. Avatar DevonPaddler

    Something doesn’t add up with these figures for Devon.

    The Exmoor & Dartmoor contract is stuck on 10.1% takeup against coverage of 4536 properties, yet CDS told Devon County Council scrutiny on 25th June that the 1000th customer was being connected. While the BDUK figures are a couple of months out, this suggests that takeup remained flat for years then is suddenly more than doubling since March 2019?

    CDS also report that Lot4 has takeup of 6.7% but that doesn’t correlate with the contract descriptions listed by BDUK?

    • Avatar Guy Cashmore

      I believe the 10.1 figure relates only to the Dartmoor and Exmoor project. I also believe the figures are correct, take-up is terrible and not growing. For ages I have been telling CDS they need to investigate the reasons causing this (I have my own ideas that I can’t put them here) but they simply don’t want to know, for CDS this area is complete, box ticked.

  4. Avatar Gary HILTON

    Do you have data for the regions within the devolved areas ?

    For England the county level information is interesting to compare but Scotland for example we have 2 huge chunks that cover many council areas with very different densities/geography.

    • Avatar craski

      Digital Scotland reporting has always been very high level. A sceptic might say they do it on purpose to hide just how far behind many of the areas really are.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      That’s partly what I was interested in seeing it for yes, when you look at the total funding shown for the 2 areas its a pretty large sum, quite possibly a more detailed breakdown of expenditure per area would cause some difficult questions from some constituents.

      The coverage type numbers we can see in more detail on the TBB maps and stats, but at what percentage of the investment funds we have no idea.

    • Avatar craski

      It was one of several recommendations that Audit Scotland made in 2015 that Digital Scotland should improve on public communication of the plan and reporting of take up figures. Neither of which appear to have changed much or improved. Their communication of the plan is still dismal (4 digit postcode level) and their checker still proudly displays the “Beta – In Testing” banner across it.

    • Avatar Brian

      Direct contact with a person there at Digital Scotland is no better with them firstly supplying information which sounds technically incorrect, then on a second occasion supplying information that is simply wrong.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      I had a couple of decent responses from HIE over the years of the rollout, Its never been good news but that were at least able to give solid information based on their known plans at the time.

      As it stands my area is classified as ‘In scope for R100 intervention’ So based on current information We’re not excluded by reason of BDUK or commercial plans. What or when and potentially IF anything comes of that who knows.

      I’m also as are many waiting for any kind of real information on how the UK USO and the Scotland R100 (R99.5) are going to either clash or integrate. Potentially the two could make a huge impact IF the contractual/political issues can be resolved and the Will is there to collaborate for the mutual benefit of users and provider. That remains to be seen.

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