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2019 H2 – UK Superfast Broadband Covers 96.5% as FTTP on 11%

Monday, Jan 6th, 2020 (11:27 am) - Score 5,839
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The latest independent model has estimated that the H2 coverage of fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) ISP networks across the United Kingdom has risen to 96.45% (up from 96.1% in H1), while “full fibre” (FTTP) now reaches 11.01% of premises (up from 8.13%) and 59.30% can get 100Mbps+ (up from 57.5%).

Firstly, it’s important to remember that the first c.76% of “superfast” network coverage was largely achieved by purely commercial roll-outs from Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media (plus some alternative network ISPs), while much of the final 25-30% has benefited from £1.7bn of public funding via the Building Digital UK programme and other schemes (often matched by contributions from private operators).

The state aid fuelled BDUK project has previously suggested that a future combination of public funding reinvestment (i.e. clawback / gainshare from high take-up and efficiency savings in earlier BDUK deployments) and new contracts could push UK coverage of superfast speeds to “at least” 98% (here), with 97% being possible by March 2020. As usual you have to order one of these services in order to benefit (not an automatic upgrade).


The expectation is that this will leave up to around 2% of premises to suffer slower sub-24Mbps connections and those are expected to be catered for via the Government’s 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO), which is currently due to be introduced from 20th March 2020 (details). Most people taking the USO will get speeds well above 10Mbps (the headline figure is a minimum).

bduk impact march 2019

Separately the Government has also committed £5bn to support future “gigabit-capable” broadband deployments to the final 20% of hardest to reach UK premises (here), although this target is more technology neutral and that means it can be delivered by a mix of FTTP, Hybrid Fibre Coax (Cable DOCSIS) or Fixed Wireless (e.g. 5G) networks.

Nevertheless a growing number of FTTP/H providers are making significant roll-out plans (details) and as such we expect to see a rapid increase in coverage over the next decade. Below you can see the latest modelling from Thinkbroadband to the start of January 2020 (2019 H2) and as usual we’ve stripped out some of the more confusing aspects in order to make it easier to read.

Naturally the coverage of “superfast” networks has slowed as the roll-out moves to tackle more challenging rural areas, while “full fibre” is growing at a much more rapid pace due to the current focus on that technology in largely urban areas (we expect a fair bit of overbuild in such locations, hence why the ‘ultrafast’ figure doesn’t rise quite as fast).


In terms of “gigabit-capable” coverage you should probably be looking toward the “ultrafast” figure because nearly all networks in that class will soon be able to deliver speeds of 1Gbps (except G.fast but gigabit capable networks have already overbuilt a lot of that).

NOTE: The figure in brackets (%) below represents the previous 2019 H1 result (H1 is from July 2019 data and H2 is January 2020).

Fixed Broadband Network Availability 2019 H2

Area % Superfast 24Mbps+ % Ultrafast 100Mbps+ % Full Fibre FTTP/H % Under 10Mbps USO
London 97.5% (97.3%) 76.2% (74.7%) 14.39% (11.31%) 2% (2.2%)
England 96.96% (96.6%) 61.83% (60.2%) 10.54% (7.95%) 2.09% (2.4%)
UK 96.45% (96.1%) 59.30% (57.5%) 11.01% (8.13%) 2.49% (2.7%)
Wales 95.28% (95.2%) 38.35% (37%) 11.28% (8.59%) 3.43% (3.5%)
Scotland 94.40% (94%) 49.89% (47.7%) 7.77% (5.05%) 4.38% (4.7%)
Northern Ireland 89.73% (89.5%) 49.74% (45.5%) 35.42% (23.16%) 6.63% (7.1%)

NOTE 1: Nearly all of the “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) coverage is coming from Virgin Media’s cable network, although Openreach, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Cityfibre, TrueSpeed and others all have big “full fibre” (FTTP/H) expansion ambitions for related services. The 330Mbps capable G.fast roll-out to 2.73 million UK premises will also help (here).

NOTE 2: Recent BDUK contracts have adopted the EU and Ofcom’s higher download speed target of 30Mbps+ for “superfast” connectivity, which on average tends to trail around 0.2-0.4% points behind the 24Mbps+ figures above (we don’t list this due to the limited difference).

NOTE 3: It’s very important to remember that Government / political targets like 95% or 98% reflect a national average, which can of course be better or worse for some regions (e.g. a few may achieve universal coverage, while others could be well below that).

NOTE 4: The 10Mbps USO figure looks at fixed broadband services but doesn’t factor in the impact of 4G or 5G based mobile broadband, if that were included then the gap left to fill would be much smaller (example).

Take note that each devolved region has its own policy and targets, which all feed into the central UK target. For example, Wales once aspired to reach nearly “every property” with 30Mbps+ broadband (here) and Scotland hopes to do something similar by 2021, although nobody is certain when those aims will truly be achieved (here) but 2021 now seems to be unrealistic.

Elsewhere Northern Ireland remains one of the weaker entries and they’re clearly struggling to deliver superfast speeds, although a new £165m project may help to resolve that but they’ve been slow to sort out the details due to political problems (here).


As stated earlier, this data is an estimate and should be taken with a pinch of salt, not least because it won’t always reflect the real-world. This is particularly true where issues like faulty lines, poor home wiring, slow WiFi, local network congestion, full street cabinets and other issues can result in slower speed or worse availability than expected. But it’s still one of the best gauges that we have for checking against official claims.

NOTE: Official figures tend to be around 0.5% to 1% higher than TBB’s data for various reasons (different data modelling methods etc.).

UPDATE 7th Jan 2020

I accidentally left out the figures for London. Added now.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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25 Responses
  1. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

    ‘At least 98%’ hurrah! How to orchestrate a contract for a further 500k premises (FTTP in deep rural) in England is worth comment. Regional procurements from the remnants of the LDP teams could be considered alongside an adequate definition for a ‘reasonable request’ for full fibre.

    What is the business for the £5bn, if all the subsidised FTTC passive infrastricture is in place and 98% + customers can get >24Mbps where 1m most rural already have access to full fibre?

    1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      Because almost everyone accepts that doing the last 5-20% of the build out is going to be very expensive.

      As CarlT said the other day, on a different thread, hamlets and the like now work fine with the existing funding structures but very isolated houses do not.

      This and making sure this all get built sometime soon is what the £5bn is for.

      My day job is 60% groundworks related and I can quite confidently tell you that doing this much real physical work is going to cost some real money and for once central government has committed a sum to FTTP that feels about right to keep things rolling. Do I believe that the £5bn will get FTTP to everywhere – no – because some very isolated premises could soak up £100k+ each. But I do believe that it will make a very major dent in the issue for a lot of farmers and people vital to the rural economy.

      Can we for once keep this thread away from the various arguments about gainshare and clawback provisions – they have now been done to death and we risk boring away the visitors to this site who are interested in other things. I ask in hope but not expectation……

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      @NGA for all, take note that 98% isn’t an official target and neither is 97%, it’s more of a prediction assuming all goes as expected. Of course not everything has gone as expected, such as the Devon and Somerset contract failure with Gigaclear etc.

    3. Avatar photo joe says:

      CD&S nothwithstanding I think 98 is getting conservative these days with so many new entrants to the market and dropping costs for the major builders at scale and new tech/methods. Somewhere beyond that but less that 99% seems plausible.

      I wonder if CD&S and the final 1% might end up looking to a post brexit solution outside the complex the state aid rules.

    4. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Certainly, the big question is when. By the end of 2020, 2021 etc. Just to be clear I’m talking about the existing BDUK programme, not considering future schemes like the £5bn etc.

    5. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

      A_Builder .. Poles v Buried cable. At what point does network run out of poles? How many premises are served by buried copper cable?

      I had case recently where a friends community (a 6km lane with 30-40 premises) was quoted £300k for extending duct but eventually when challenged over 24 months, BT decided to use the their exiting poles and charge against the money available which was also pointed out to them. This is on the Welsh border.

      Overlaying fibre on poles is relatively cheap and popular in very rural Ireland, but I am little blind on the number of premises served by buried cable. Could not the fibre cable be buried on the same route as the copper cable?

    6. Avatar photo Gadget says:

      @NGA – one area where poles and new trenching has issues is National Parks, AONBs and SSSIs which are not often found in urban areas.

  2. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

    A-Builder .. Mark.. but you can see and touch the money to get beyond 98% .stop. The £5bn IMHO needs to come in a fundamental re-think of spectrum policy. A fibre rich world, which the market can now deliver without further subsidy is needed to enable a dense web of radios, some 1m a sqkm (indoor and outdoor in an urban area) to support the full promise of a highly sensored world of 5G. Spectrum auctions did untold damage to the potential of 3G and 4G eco systems, we ended up using wifi to carry our data.

    1. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

      @NGA – isn’t eg. a 1G circuit available almost anywhere?

    2. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

      Facts.. indeed -just call it fibre – 1gig is associated with a private circuit pricing, This is why the £5bn might be better spent on enabling the eco-system needed to better manage services accessing the data transport layer permitted by the fibres.

      By eco-system I mean, how converged services are managed across a web of wireless devices.

  3. Avatar photo Jon Angus says:

    This is all complete nonsense I live in the middle of England and my broadband is less then 24mbut and it’s been like this for the past 6 years since I’ve lived here no upgrades or speed increases and when you ask if it will get better all you get is soon.. soon when in another 6 years time. Only people that benefit from fast internet is big cities and business willing to pay for upgrading.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      That just means you’re probably in the final 3-4%, which is obviously terrible for you but shouldn’t take away from the progress that has been made elsewhere. Might help to know which area you’re in though?

    2. Avatar photo Gary says:

      Without wanting to downplay your situation, but less than 24M leaves alot of headroom above the USO, and is significantly better than many are getting.

      My area hasnt seen any upgrades since I moved here either So still on a 1.5M adsl line, but that doesnt mean only big cities are seeing the benefits, my nearest villaiage is all on FTTC at pretty much max speeds and the nearest small towns (Buckie and Cullen) are fully covered.

      I’ve come to accept I’m going to be at the very end of the List, despite not being remote or Isolated or whatever ‘Deep Rural’ means. I live on a road that goes between two areas covered by BDUK Sadly those of us along that route are spread out and and hence unprofitable or not value for money, such is life.

      My own situation doesn’t mean the progress made so far is negated. Just means I recieve no benefit.

    3. Avatar photo gerarda says:


      Spread out along a road is bad for FTTC but actually quite good for FTTP slung along the poles. Our road has about 30 houses outside the FTTC superfast range spread out over 4 miles back to the exchange and we were provided with FTTP from BDUK. I think you/your councillor/MP should tackle whoever makes these decisions in Scotland and get them to have a rethink

    4. Avatar photo Gary says:

      Gerada, Aye indeed , FTTC is a washout, 5g well lets not even go there. Fibre works yes but the deployment costs vs the returns for a provider are not really viable. Ours is a typical Small farm type area each in approx 80 acres resulting in a spread of properties resulting in about 500 to 700 metres between. Very typical In the HIE area and not appealing to either commercial deployment or government intervention due to the poor cost vs properties passed.

  4. Avatar photo Mick Heron says:

    My address is RM124YW when will we get fibre as my internet is crap & nobody seems to know when this will happen
    I live in a flat
    Many Thanks Mick

    1. Avatar photo Gary says:

      Have you looked at a 4G solution ?

      Thats what I’ve done, with no prospect of anything better via fixed line and the recent drop in Data pricing from 4G providers.

      Might be your best option, certainly worked for us.

    2. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      You should have good 4G coverage there – you can get a Three all-you-can-eat SIM for £20 per month (currently on offer for first six months), which is likely to give much better speeds than ADSL. I use one, and although in my area speeds aren’t superfast, they are better than ADSL.

    3. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Register the site with Hyperoptic and encourage your neighbours to do the same

  5. Avatar photo rehan says:

    what is the post price on your site at ;   https://www.ispreview.co.uk 
    let me know  

  6. Avatar photo No broadband says:

    Well all I can say it’s now 2020
    I still have a broadband speed measured in the sub 1mb speeds
    No mobile signal
    No WiFi
    The USO is as much use as the USC was.
    Roll on 2025 when more people will be enjoying fibre or 5G
    But not the hardest to reach areas(Cornwall), All we got to look forward to is the phone being cut off.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Cornwall is 93.6% at 24 Mb or higher and 37.45% coverage with Openreach FTTP.

      Cornwall has a higher proportion of people with fibre right to their home or business than Birmingham, #2 city by population in the UK, or Leeds, #3.

      Sorry you have no service but that certainly doesn’t apply to Cornwall as a whole. Superfast Cornwall and successive programmes have been very productive in bringing fibre to hard to reach areas there.

    2. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      As far as mobile goes I get a better signal and faster 4G in Falmouth, population less than 25,000, than I do in my home city, population 750,000.

      You must be really, really remote, and the lack of service is unlikely anything to do with Cornwall: it would be the same whichever county you were in.

    3. Avatar photo Gary says:

      No Wifi ? That’s your own fault.

  7. Avatar photo Douglas May says:

    National scandal of these false statistics when it comes to retail and enterprise business connectivity. 96% coverage of super-fast broadband, yet I quoted for a 20 site major retail brand this week and not one outlet could get anything more than ADSL. When will the government or Ofcom intervene to force Openreach to connect retail areas, business parks and shopping centres with fibre broadband???

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