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Q2 2019 BDUK Superfast Broadband Take-up Progress by UK Area

Friday, October 4th, 2019 (10:59 am) - Score 2,273

The Government’s £1.7bn Building Digital UK scheme, which since 2012/13 has helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to nearly 5.2 million extra UK premises, has published its latest quarterly customer take-up data to the end of June 2019. Some rollouts are now seeing almost 70% adoption!

The figures below reflect the percentage of homes and businesses that have chosen to take a superfast broadband service (usually delivered via FTTC, FTTP or Fixed Wireless Access), specifically those which have been delivered via state aid 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 BT contracts, while the on-going Phase 2 contracts have attracted a mix of extension deals from BT and several alternative network (altnet) ISPs. Later phases also have a much bigger focus on remote rural areas and now involve a lot more FTTP to reflect the Government’s focus on “full fibre“.

We should also point out that older BDUK contracts defined “superfast” as offering download speeds of greater than 24Mbps+, although recent deals have increased this to 30Mbps+ in order to align with the definition used by Ofcom and the EU.

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 (here) and more than £210m (Jan 2018 figure) from efficiency savings, which may rise again in the future. 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 network coverage data (sadly BDUK hasn’t yet posted the latest figures for this). Overall 59.58% premises have adopted the new service (up from 57.67% in March 2019).

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 % (Dec 2018) Uptake % (Mar 2019) Uptake % (Jun 2019)
Berkshire Councils 61.2 63.7 65.5
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire 63.6 66.5 68.9
Cambridgeshire, Peterborough 58.4 61 62.9
Central Beds, Bedford Borough, Milton Keynes 63.2 66.1 68.6
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton 60.9 63.4 65.5
Devon & Somerset (including, Plymouth, Torbay, North Somerset, Bath & NE Somerset) 54.7 57.7 60
Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire 63.1 65.6 67.7
Cumbria 55.5 58.3 60.6
Derbyshire 53.3 56.5 58.9
Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole 54.7 57.6 60
Durham, Gateshead, Tees Valley and Sunderland 53.4 56.5 58.9
East Riding of Yorkshire 57.6 60.7 63.2
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove 60.5 63.3 65.4
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock 59.6 62.5 64.8
Greater Manchester 48.8 52.1 55.1
Hampshire 57.4 60.4 62.6
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 54.9 57.6 59.7
Isle of Wight 52.6 55.5 58.1
Kent and Medway 58.3 61.1 63.2
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen 51.6 54.5 56.8
Leicestershire 58.7 61.6 63.8
Lincolnshire 57.9 60.7 63
Merseyside 47.3 50.4 53
Newcastle upon Tyne 50.1 52.8 55
Norfolk 57.8 60.6 62.8
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire 56.8 59.1 61.2
North Yorkshire 58.2 58.2 58.2
Northamptonshire 61.9 64.5 66.8
Northumberland 59.2 61.8 63.7
Nottinghamshire 57.6 60.3 62.2
Oxfordshire 61.6 64.5 66.6
Rutland 65.4 67.3 67
Shropshire 55.8 58.7 61.3
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent 54.9 57.9 59.8
Suffolk 59.6 62.2 64.4
Surrey 62.6 64.8 66.6
West Sussex 62 64.6 66.7
West Yorkshire 52.6 55.4 57.8
Wiltshire 60 62.6 64.8
South Gloucestershire 62.4 64.6 66.5
Worcestershire 60.3 63.3 65.8
Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands 54.4 57.7 60.1
Northern Ireland 64 66 67.7
Rest of Scotland 49.2 52.6 55.2
Wales 51.8 51.8 51.8

BDUK Phase 2 Take-up (Average %)

So far in this phase an overall total of 44.02% (up from 42.11% in March 2019) 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 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 % (Dec 2018) Uptake % (Mar 2019) Uptake % (Jun 2019)
Berkshire 24.9, 5.6, 15.1 26, 6, 22.2 26, 3.7, 27.4
Black Country 36.7 40.9 44.2
Bucks & Herts 39.7 45 47.2
Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes 40.8 46 48.2
Cambridgeshire no data no data no data
Cheshire 46.4 49.5 51.9
Cornwall 44.1, 19.8 48, 23.6 51.1, 24.1
Cumbria 38 41.8 44.3
Derbyshire 34.6 38.2 40.5
Devon & Somerset 10.1, 17.5 10.1, 4, 24 10.1, 5, 26
Dorset 47.2, 3.5 52.9, 1.4 57.1, 8.4
Durham 36.9 42.1 46.1
East Riding (Yorkshire) 49.3 53.1 55.1
East Sussex 52.1 51.3 54.1
Essex 40.2, 28.7, 9 44.5, 34, 9, 0.7 48.2, 26.6, 2, 13.9, 0.3
Greater Manchester no data no data no data
Hampshire 38.1 42.5 45.7
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire 11.3, 4.8, 7.6, 0.2 38, 11.3, 5, 4,11.4, 12.3 37.4, 6, 11, 6.7, 3.2, 16.7, 18.7
Kent 50.1 55.4 59.9
Lancashire 37.6 41.1 42.8
Leicestershire 36.8 41.4 45.2
Lincolnshire 36.9 42 44.9
Norfolk 45.1 49.8 52.4
North Lincolnshire 38.9 43.1 46.2
North Yorkshire 56.4, 0.9 56.4, 11.6 56.4, 14.7
Northamptonshire 46.7, 10, 15.5 50.5, 11, 23 53.7, 12.9, 11.8
Northumberland 42.7 45.6 49.8
Nottinghamshire 42.4 44.7 47
Oxfordshire no data no data no data
Rutland no data no data no data
Shropshire 38.9, 2.2 43.6, 2.2 47.1, 2.2
South Gloucestershire 44.2, 19.3 47.6, 19.9 50.8, 23.9
South Yorkshire 35.6 43.4 46.7
Staffordshire 39.7 43.4 44.4
Suffolk 45.6 49.5 51.4
Swindon 8.7 9 9
Telford & Wrekin 50.7 55.7 59.7
Warwickshire 40.7, 1.1 45.8, 1.1 46.9, 6
West Oxfordshire 7 7 8
West Sussex 47 47 52.8
West Yorkshire 37.2 40.8 42.3
Wiltshire 42.6, 0.6 46.7, 4.4 50.6, 0.9, 16.5
Worcestershire 48.3 51.7 53.9
Devolved Administrations
Highlands and Islands no data no data no data
Northern Ireland 38.4 42.9 46.2
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 the faster 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.

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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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7 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all

    Looking good, but as yet there is no public record of BT’s capital contributions and so more may be possible. I am not sure it is right to claim efficiency savings when the National Audit Office with the Public accounts committee in 2015 proved costs in the Framework had been inflated by 38%.

    If it was accurately reported upon then you would ask why more was not planned at the time, better resourced and with fewer rounds of procurement and less palaver on state aid.

    There has been 7 Parliamentary inquiries (11 audits and counting) to get us passed 95% and we could land at 99% if another 400k rural premises can be contracted for FTTP. The budget should exist for the latter.

  2. Avatar A_Builder

    Will any BDUK utilisation rates fall with FTTP deployment?

    Will that de trigger gainshare?

    Just a thought.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      It will use the gainshare, rather than generate much more. It is not so much the money, but the appetite to conclude another round of procurement to conclude the works. There is also a resource issue, taking completion towards 2024/25.

      B-USO could get in the way. The latest EFRA SC report will provide useful insight.

  3. Avatar Gary

    Curious, HIE lower % coverage of superfast and fibre than RoS yet higher take up. Thanks DSSB and we still have a much higher percentage below USO.

    SNP moan about Westminster England bias, yet play the same game with their own area.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      The lack of FTTP in-fill in SCotland is a real weakness. The money was allocated so I guess it is in the system somewhere but the work and effort is owed.

    • Avatar Gary

      Greater percentage of ‘Large’ towns and cities in RoS I know, but It always annoys me when figures are posted about ‘Scotland’ coverage being that there’s such a big gulf between the two lots.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gary, H&I budget set high in 2011-12. There is one crinkle. In the first Audit Scotland report it only found c£4m capital contribution from BT as a contribution to allowable costs in H&I . It will be interesting to eventually find out, if as fibre is a part regulated BT will be held to account for a uniform capital contribution.

      If H&I is 240k premises they should be a visible and auditable contribution to direct costs of about £19.2m.

      Audit Scotland third report should really be withdrawn but there processes have an infallibility clause. The report suggests BT had paid its 11 years operational costs in advance by claiming BT’s invest was complete.

      The FTTP in-fill is being held to ransom by the lack of transparency and high levels of normalised deviancy. This may be corrected in R100 but that remains to be seen.

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