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2020 H2 – UK Cover of Gigabit Broadband Reaches 37.4 Percent

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 (12:09 pm) - Score 4,800
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The latest independent study of UK broadband coverage for H2 2020 has estimated that “full fibre” (FTTP) ISP networks have now increased their reach to 19.2% of premises (up from 14.8% in H1), while 37.4% are within reach of “gigabit” speeds (up from 22.1%) and 64.3% can get 100Mbps+ (up from 61.7%).

The focus these days has now switched from “superfast” (30Mbps+) to “gigabit” (1000Mbps+ or 1Gbps+) networks and as such it’s important to give a little context. Until recently nearly all of the new gigabit coverage was coming from Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks via operators like Openreach (BT), Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Cityfibre, CommunityFibre, G.Network, TrueSpeed and many others (Summary of Full Fibre Builds).

However, Virgin Media’s decision to rollout DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which is now rapidly being spread across both their new FTTP and existing Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) networks (here) – due to complete by the end of 2021 (covering c.16 million premises or around 55-60% of the UK), has changed the aforementioned dynamic.

In short, we’re currently seeing a surge in gigabit coverage from that combination of DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades and FTTP deployments, both of which are in the process of ramping-up. At present most of this is thanks to commercial investment, often with a little support from the Government’s various voucher schemes, but we also expect the new £5bn Gigabit Broadband Programme (F20) to start having a gradual impact from 2022.

Meanwhile those still stuck in sub-10Mbps areas will, for the time being, be left with little option but to try and harness the Government’s flawed 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO). Most people taking the USO are being promised speeds of above 10Mbps (often via 4G rather than fibre), but some of those are already finding that they live in areas where not even the USO can cover the colossal upgrade costs (here and here).

Below you can see the latest modelling from Thinkbroadband to 7th January 2021 (H2 – 2020) and as usual we’ve stripped out some of the more confusing aspects in order to make it easier to read. We should point out that the USO figure doesn’t reflect 4G mobile coverage and is thus higher than Ofcom’s own result of 0.6% (here).

NOTE: The figures in brackets (%) represent the previous H1 – 2020 result (July 2020).

Fixed Broadband Network Availability H2 – 2020

Area 30Mbps+ 100Mbps+ Full Fibre
Gigabit % Under 10Mbps
England 97.1% (96.9%) 66.4% (64.1%) 18.09% (14.06%) 36.28% (21.95%) 1% (1%)
UK 96.6% (96.4%) 64.3% (61.7%) 19.19% (14.81%) 37.41% (22.12%)
1.4% (1.5%)
Wales 95.1% (95.1%) 42.5% (39.9%) 18.56% (14.11%) 26.29% (14.11%) 2.5% (2.5%)
Scotland 94.5% (94.3%) 56% (52.9%) 16.99% (12.04%) 44.29% (20.67%) 3.1% (3.2%)
N.Ireland 89.5% (89.1%) 68.9% (58%) 60.27% (47.7%) 68.65% (47.7%) 6.7% (6.9%)

NOTE 1: Nearly all of the “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) coverage is coming from Virgin Media’s cable network, although Openreach, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Cityfibre and others all have big “full fibre” (FTTP) expansion plans. The 330Mbps capable G.fast roll-out to 2.8 million UK premises has had a small impact too.

NOTE 2: It’s very important to remember that Government / political coverage targets like 95% 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).

Take note that each devolved region (Scotland, Wales etc.) has its own policy and targets, which all feed into the central UK figure. Interestingly, while Northern Ireland may be struggling to deliver superfast speeds, their full fibre coverage is way ahead of other regions and we suspect they’ll be one of the first to achieve near universal coverage of gigabit-capable broadband.

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. But it’s still one of the best and most up-to-date gauges that we have for checking against official claims (official figures tend to be a tiny bit higher than TBB’s due to differences in data modelling etc.).

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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
29 Responses
  1. j karna says:

    In Central London, many users are still connected via exchange-only’ broadband line with ADSL+2 and left behind.

    1. Moss says:

      I’m from central London and live there and that s not true, we do have fibre in central London I live in Barbican (Islington).

    2. Dave says:

      I think the poster was staing there are area within Central London not blessed with hybrid or full fibre (fttc ot fttp).
      You are clearly blessed with either fttc or fttp.
      This is true in other areas of England

  2. Jon says:

    And in Leicestershire for some reason is BT’s forgotten land!

    No sign of FTTP rollout anywhere

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Around 5% of that county has FTTP, while c.64% are covered by Virgin Media.

    2. Meadmodj says:

      If by BT you mean OR then yes there is a lot of FF FTTP activity in adjacent counties but none in Leicestershire. May be because they are following a contiguous plan, Leicester and other towns are already covered by VM to meet Ultrafast demand and Cityfibre has stated that they will be covering Leicester for FTTP. So with limited investment funds and resource it is reasonable for OR not to commit at this time. Progress out of town may progress once the proposed subsidy to noncompetitive areas are tendered by DCMS (could be anyone) therefore to assume it has to be OR short or medium term would be wrong.

    3. Jonny says:

      Maybe Openreach are completely ignoring Leicestershire towns for FTTP because they’re planning a massive deployment across the whole county (/sarcasm)

    4. Paul M says:

      Large areas of semi rural Cambridgeshire are left out. If you have telegraph poles, bt will dangle fibre, but many villages have buried cables without ducting or the ducts have collapsed from age, and bt don’t want the cost of repairing their neglected infrastructure.

  3. John says:

    “Take note that each devolved region (Scotland, Wales etc.) has its own policy ”

    We’re a nation, not a region.

    1. Gary says:

      Well you’re both really.

      But

      Devolution
      noun
      1.
      the transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to local or regional administration.

      SO you’re a regional administration

  4. Martin Cape says:

    Try living in West Cumbria.
    We have 79mbps fibre, but nothing in sight for FTTP or GFast.
    Plus, my fibre speed has been deteriorating for years.
    When it arrived, 6 year ago maybe, 79 max!! Great.
    Now, 61. Already been paid once for going below the minimum speed guarantee.

    1. GNewton says:

      “79mbps fibre, but nothing in sight for FTTP”

      This is a contradiction. You don’t have fibre!

    2. Paul M says:

      Cross talk, under provision of connectivity bandwidth, and degrading copper circuits are going to take a toll.

  5. Jamie Simms says:

    The only Openreach FTTP in Leicestershire is on new build areas and a couple of small housing areas in Market Harborough that were built in 2016 but only around 100 homes covered.

    There is a whole estate in Birstall of circa 800 houses that cannot even get FTTC so are stuck with ADSL and OR have no plans to upgrade the area. They do have VM but is so over subscribed it’s unbelievable with no customers being allowed 500Mbps service and frequent tv & broadband problems .

    The CityFibre rollout is a strange one as they seem to be focused on the low income multi cultural areas most of which are already on VM.

    I am really not sure why Openreach have not done more around Leicestershire to enable FTTP I am wondering whether there is a technical reason more than commercial reasoning now

    1. Oggy says:

      “low income multi cultural areas”.

      Check out Jamie the racist!

  6. Mark says:

    Not sure why Cityfibre doing Cities is strange ?

  7. Jon says:

    I have pushed the council, local MP (ibstock, north west Leicestershire) Openreach, Cityfiber, Virgin Media (my 2012 build estate isn’t covered) all like smashing head against a brick wall got nowhere at all.

    I just don’t understand why Leicestershire is left behind regarding FTTP. Even the https://www.superfastleicestershire.org.uk/ site hasn’t been updated in over a year…no surprise!

  8. Andrew Rowley says:

    We have a fibre running over our land but no distribution point so stuck with slow adsl as we are on what was an EO line but us now described as fibre capable but as the cabinet is outside the exchange we are quoted that it would be slower than adsl.

    We get 7mbs on a good day but cannot go to 4G as cgnat blocks external access to our servers – small business running from home.

    1. Andrew Rowley says:

      To clarify we are in central norfolk and according to the council we live in the town.

    2. GNewton says:

      So if you are the owner of that land why would you let them run fibre over your property yet they won’t give you access to a fibre service?

    3. Paul M says:

      If you can, tell them you’re ending the contractual wayleave, and see what they counter-offer.

  9. mark klinger says:

    Unfortunately, a lot of gigabyte broadband is duplicated by different companies installing in the same area, there is nothing in our area of North Lincolnshire, to extend broadband coverage

  10. Philip Cheeseman says:

    I keep hearing about coverage extending but I still know only one person in the tech firm I work for with true fibre (and we’re talking a large area of Portsmouth/Southmapton and beyond I’ve got co-workers living in). I’m sure coverage is improving in certain urban areas but when large quite urban areas of Southampton have nothing it’ll be 2030 (if i’m lucky) before my small town sees anything. The 2025 Boris promise just seems like a bad joke.

  11. Draymond Jackson says:

    Openreach have been busy in my area over the past month, ducts and infrastructure has been marked out on the pavement, often you see an arrow on one side of the pavement pointing across to the other side of the road, mapping out the cable path.

    I’ve seen the larger Openreach vans show up with a huge reel of thick black cable, which I assume to be fibre op, passing it into the manholes. Didn’t know the manhole was as deep as the height of an avg adult male. Then again suppose it is in the name.

    I most likely won’t upgrade beyond 80/20 since I live next to the fibre cab and receive 75/18 with Sky. Pings are great too (8-10ms E.Mids to Lon) with almost next to no downtime. Only during the early hours of the morning my connection drops for 2mins due to daily line checks.

    However there are many young families in the area so id imagine they will be ready for the upgrade. VM have made an appearance within the last 10 years offering DOCSIS, so it will be interesting to see the community uptake of the Openreach network based products.

  12. Joe Bloggs says:

    The stats about coverage are made up anyway. It is purely government propaganda.
    The superfast figures relate to lines which are FTTC enabled, but this doesn’t mean superfast broadband. In my experience advertised speeds are double the reality. I suspect the actual coverage is a lot lower.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      The coverage data above comes from Thinkbroadband, which do independent modelling. The superfast figures exclude FTTC lines that cannot deliver 24Mbps or 30Mbps speeds, if you were to include those then the raw “FTTC/P/G.fast” etc. footprint for the UK would be 98.77%.

    2. Joe Bloggs says:

      My line is shown in the think broadband data as being able to achieve 30mbps+, but this is not true – my line can only achieve 20mbps max as can others in my street. It would be naive to believe we are the only street in the uk with the same outcome

      In other words the think broadband data is meaningless and just there for government propaganda purposes.

  13. Joe Bloggs says:

    Update: think broadband have now removed superfast broadband availability from my postcode. It took 6 months. It at least it is now accurate.

  14. Lorenzo says:

    Would it be possible to have access to the original study?
    I would like to have a better understanding of the “Gigabit” definition they use.
    I.e. understanding the impact of non-fibre technology to the 37% UK coverage.

    Thank you

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