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Ofcom – 10Mb Broadband USO Gap Shrinks to 578000 UK Premises

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 (11:07 am) - Score 1,778
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Ofcom has published a Summer 2019 update to their Connected Nations report, which reveals that “full fibre” (FTTP) UK broadband coverage has risen to 8% (up from 7% four months ago) and the number of premises unable to get 10Mbps+ has declined from 619,000 to 578,000. Geographic 4G mobile cover remains at 66%.

Today’s new report is actually based on coverage and service availability information received from ISPs and mobile network operators as of May 2019, which is thus four months more current than the January 2019 data in their previous Spring 2019 update.

The other key changes since Ofcom’s previous study are that “ultrafast broadband” availability (defined by the regulator as speeds of 300Mbps+) has risen from 53% to 54% of UK homes and businesses, while “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage has held steady at 95%.

Most of the ultrafast growth comes from the expansion of Virgin Media’s cable network, although Openreach has also been very busy deploying both G.fast and FTTP technology. Similarly lots of alternative network ISPs are helping to spread FTTP at an increasingly rapid pace (Summary of Full Fibre Plans), with Cityfibre and Hyperoptic being two of the biggest movers in that crowd. Overall about 2.5 million premises can now take FTTP (up by +400,000 between January and May 2019).

A Spokesperson for Openreach said:

“The Full fibre build is the largest upgrade to our digital network in a generation and has the ability to unlock huge social and economic benefits. We are proud to be leading the way having reached over 1.5 homes and businesses already but we want to go further, faster and continue to work with Ofcom and Government to ensure they create the right conditions for a nationwide roll out.”

The improved fixed line broadband coverage means that the number of premises that cannot get a “decent broadband” (10Mbps+) service has fallen to 2% or 578,0000 premises (down from 619,000 in the spring update). A download speed of at least 10Mbps and an upload of 1Mbps also represents the specification for the UK Government’s imminent broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).

NOTE: The Government’s original definition of “superfast” is slightly lower at 24Mbps+, which officially hit 95% at the start of 2018 and is today c.96% (here).

Meanwhile 4G mobile networks have seen their indoor coverage by all operators (EE, Three UK, O2 and Vodafone combined) hold steady at 77% and geographic coverage from all operators remains at 66% over the same period. Ofcom seems to have tweaked their methodology for 4G coverage as the historic figures have changed slightly.

May 2019 Coverage Data by Region

The following table summarises the latest mobile and fixed broadband coverage figures for Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland individually and you can get more detail by downloading the full Summer 2019 Update (PDF).

NOTE: In order to meet the Government’s nationwide “full fibre” ambition for 2025 we need to see the UK adding about 4-5 million premises a year, although they appear to have downgraded this target to include other “gigabit” capable networks (here).

ofcom_2019_summer_broadband_and_mobile_coverage_england_data

ofcom_2019_summer_broadband_and_mobile_coverage_nireland_data

ofcom_2019_summer_broadband_and_mobile_coverage_scotland_data

ofcom_2019_summer_broadband_and_mobile_coverage_wales_data

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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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20 Responses
  1. Avatar A_Builder

    That is 43k people who are not digitally excluded.

    What would be good to know is does that mean that 43k have gone to the bare minimum of 10/1 or have 43k gone from not much to full fat fibre?

    If it is the latter that is very good work and a very welcome build out as it will be future proof and not need revisiting.

    Hopefully it is the latter?

    • It’s via a combination of fixed broadband technologies, although I think most – or at least a big chunk – of those done during 2019 have been via rural FTTP deployments under BDUK linked projects.

  2. Avatar Malcolm Beaton

    I don’t believe the broadband checker works – I put in SE16 7PY and its says I can get 12mb – nobody in the area gets 12mb – more like 5.5mb to a max of 6mb – it will be interesting to see what happens next year when the USO comes in when there own checker is reporting incorrect speeds

    • Avatar Malcolm Beaton

      The broadband checker also shows that I can get Ultrafast but nobody supplies it – Hyperoptic did have a trial about a year and half ago but it is on hold and they currently have no plans for the area

    • Avatar JamesP

      https://www.dslchecker.bt.com shows ADSL range up to around 5mbit for a few random house numbers. No mention of anything faster? What checker were you using?

    • Avatar Marty

      Maybe it’s not economically viable for them to upgrade the area yet. Surrey Quays is in the same boat from what I see. Best bet is to wait until the USO kicks in and hopefully the situation will change until then keep and eye on https://roadworks.org/ every now an then and see what happens

    • Avatar Malcolm Beaton

      I was using the broadband checker on the Ofcom website

    • It’s generally agreed by most people I know that Ofcom’s own checker is a misleading pile of uselessness.

    • Avatar Malcolm Beaton

      What concerns me is that Ofcom are publishing figures that are incorrect – I wonder how many others are incorrect and what the real figures are – based on the Ofcom broadband checker I wouldn’t be eligible for the USO – its going to be fun when USO comes in next year

    • Avatar Joe

      I’m still unclear how they are going to make that USO speed determination. Connection speed is not a very good guide for a whole load of reasons.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Joe

      “I’m still unclear how they are going to make that USO speed determination. Connection speed is not a very good guide for a whole load of reasons.”

      I couldn’t agree more.

      A really high quality stable 100/100 connection can be a lot more useful than a flaky 1G/1G connection which is really only good for watching movies over!

    • Avatar Mark

      Even Openreach themselves can’t do it right – their new(ish) fibre checker reports long lines on FTTC as “we will be upgrading your area to FTTC soon”, so what hope is there for Ofcom, who are just collating other people’s data…?

    • Avatar Fastman

      hhhhmm

      Brunswick Quay – bermondsey

      from memory i think Openreach tried to work with a community in that area about 4 0 5 years ago but were rebuffed by community as no interest or no traction

      assume you will get 4g to get the 10 meg if no covered by anything else or look at a community fibre programme for your area

    • Avatar Malcolm

      Thats interesting – having lived in Brunswick Quay for over 20 years I have never had any communications from Openreach, I have attended the local residents meetings and discussed broadband which as far as I know Openreach never contacted them – the local residents association did a leaflet drop to encourage people to sign up which resulted in Virgin saying they were coming to the area then they decided to do somewhere else then last year we had Hyperoptic but they got busy doing the council properties and have had difficulty buying bandwidth in the area. 4G coverage is poor and will also be hampered due to the overgrown trees that Southwark council haven’t pruned for years – Three 4G gets around 3mb download in the evening – lets see what comes next year but not holding out much hope

  3. Avatar NGA for all

    Thinkbroadband last week reported 10Mbs/1Mbps to be 788k…https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8524-august-2019-update-on-broadband-availability-across-the-uk-nations-and-regions while the Minister provided the Efra selected committee on Sept 9th, quoting Ofcom that B-USO would 600k by 2020 http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/rural-broadband-and-digital-only-services/written/104872.pdf
    Neither reconcile this with the BDUK potential upside if they were to contract a further 200-300k rural premises using the clawback and other funding available. Phase 2 outstanding premises is some 340k. Finishing BDUK using full fibre will need to take precedence over the B-USO until about 2025. Once hopes this will be resolved when industry refuse to fund BT’s USO while such monies are within the BDUK process. This should come to a head when Ofcom consults on the funding process.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      How you decide what is a 1Mbps upload sync speed is the key driver ie does 12 down 1 up ADSL2+ count.

      Hence why tables on tbb say ADSL2+ not counted as USO compliant.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Andrew – I saw that ADSL2+ exclusion so thanks. Your urban and rural splits will be significant. Do 100k premises in Greater London expect to benefit from B-uSO funded solutions? As the problem diminishes your reporting will be important to understanding the appropriate fix.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Mike
      You keep referring to the gainshare monies as though it exists in a pot accessible to be spent across the country. As you know however (it has been pointed out numerous times by me and others), this is not in fact the case.

      Whilst there may indeed be several hundred million pounds available in gainshare funds, the decision whether to invest this in broadband or other services rests with each local authority not the government, and each would no doubt restrict any further investment that it might make to premises within its own boundaries. And of course state aid spending limits per premise still apply.

      Regarding “unspent” BT Group funds, you’ll be aware that much of this is for opex purposes over the remaining lifetime of the BDUK contracts so can’t be spent on additional capex. In other words, the idea that there is a pot of hundreds of millions of pounds sat waiting for someone to come up with a plan to spend it is not correct.

      As for “Finishing BDUK using full fibre will need to take precedence over the B-USO until about 2025”, are you seriously suggesting that nothing should happen on the broadband USO until 2025, or did you mean something else? If the former, I doubt that would be politically palatable, if the latter then please explain.

  4. Avatar SuperFast Dream

    I wonder why the stats for NI have remained static, or gone backwards, with the exception of FTTP, very odd! Perhaps it has something to do with Project Stratum and the waiting of the ‘coffers’ to open…..

  5. Avatar craski

    I’ve seen several small pockets of FTTP deep into rural Aberdeenshire in Scotland and hopefully that is a trend that will continue.

    I’ve also noticed several FTTC infill cabinets dropping off the “plan”. It would be nice to think that is because FTTP now makes more sense long term for the difficult areas that BDUK failed to reach and not for any political USO or R100 reason?

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