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Full Fibre UK ISP Hyperoptic Set to Miss Broadband Build Target

Saturday, September 11th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 3,576
hyperoptic street works fttp broadband

Over the past few years’ we’ve seen various alternative broadband providers set out grand ambitions for their “full fibre” (FTTP/B) networks, not least of which was Hyperoptic’s plan to cover 2 million UK premises by the end of 2021. But recent modelling suggests they’ve still got a long way to go.

Hyperoptic is one of the country’s oldest and most respected pioneers of alternative full fibre networks. The provider began life in September 2011 and initially focused their deployments on large residential / apartment (MDU) and office buildings in London, before later expanding out to build in parts of 43 cities and towns across the UK. By 2015 their network had managed to reach around 100,000 premises and was still growing, rapidly.

In July 2017 the operator, on the back of a £100m funding deal, took a major step forward by unveiling an “ambitious plan” to grow its network another sixfold and “make their hyperfast broadband service available to two million homes by 2022 and five million by 2025” (prior to that they had intended to reach 500,000 premises by the end of 2019).

The provider then went on to secure a key £250m funding boost in 2018 (here), which was soon aided by a £500m deal with global investment firm KKR (here) and, as part of that, they also moved their coverage target forward by a year (i.e. 2 million homes by 2021 and 5 million by 2024 – we always assume such dates mean “end of“).

However, in October 2019 Hyperoptic revealed that their network had so far only passed “almost 400,000” live premises (here), which effectively meant that they’d missed one of their key ambitions. Prior to that they had been giving out a figure of c.500,000, but that included buildings where they had wayleave agreements signed and were still actively working to bring them online.

Since then, the provider has tended to shy away from issuing new coverage updates, but until last year ISPreview.co.uk was still being told that their previous coverage ambition had not changed. However, independent data supplied to us by Thinkbroadband in July 2021 estimated that Hyperoptic’s network probably covered about 612,000 UK premises (we suspect the provider’s own private figure may now be closer to c.650,000).

Suffice to say that, even accounting for the likelihood of some errors and missed coverage in TBBs data, that still makes achieving anything even close to 2 million premises by the end of 2021 a practical impossibility, at the current rate of build. Sadly, our repeated attempts to secure an official coverage update, or updated statement on their rollout ambitions, have so far been unsuccessful.

None of this should distract from the fact that Hyperoptic continues to offer a solid, affordable and highly rated broadband service. As an ISP, they have helped the industry to break down many barriers and were deploying gigabit speed broadband, at scale, long.. before the vast majority of the market had even thought about doing the same.

Nevertheless, we do also judge providers by their ability to achieve, or at least get close to achieving, their publicly stated ambitions. Such ambitions often also provide some of the fuel for INCA’s future AltNet forecasts (here), which recently predicted that alternative fixed line broadband networks could cover 29.9 million premises by the end of 2025.

At this point we can only speculate as to the reason for Hyperoptic’s status, since up until around 2018/19 they appeared to still be ramping up and making good build progress. One aspect is likely to be the huge increase in competitive pressure(s) from masses of new AltNets (Summary of UK Full Fibre Builds), many of which are now operating in the same areas. Not to mention the big plans from Openreach and Virgin Media.

No doubt the impact on supply chains and resources, which often stem from issues related to COVID-19 and Brexit, as well as a related reduction in new build developments during 2020 (homes, buildings), will have also had a role to play. But such issues don’t seem to have caused as many problems for Hyperoptic’s closest rivals, such as G.Network, CommunityFibre and CityFibre, which have all seen strong build through the period.

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16 Responses
  1. David says:

    Anecdotal, but I had been hassling Hyperoptic for about three months to get their interest in installing in a building we own – was told it was definitely going to happen but could never make any progress.

    Got bored and emailed Community Fibre who surveyed later that same week. Night and day difference in the amount of hassle it is to deal with each company.

    1. A_Builder says:

      Used to be the reverse about 2 years ago.

      How things change.

      That said Community Fibre’s fault fixing are hopeless as their records are a total mess: particularly when you have multiple connections like we do.

  2. Matthew says:

    It’s telling that Hyperoptic have been over-ambitious. Opening their coverage map for London and filtering for agreed installations gives a sea of orange. My address is Installation Agreed and has been for quite a while – though being the sole resident likely to take their service I expect I’ll never see them here which is saddening but understandable.

  3. Tom says:

    I recently tried to get Hyperoptic installed in my flat (the service is live in my building, but I needed a socket installed). They were unable to give me an install date for two months, by which time I had to go with another provider. That entire time they couldn’t even give a rough estimate as to when they might be able to complete the install. Really disappointing, as it was one of the reasons I chose this building – and not surprising that they are behind on rollout.

  4. qq says:

    installing per building instead of an area isn’t the greatest idea is it?q

    1. Pete says:

      It is when rolling out to MDUs is far cheaper.

  5. A_Builder says:

    Was quite confused about the capitalisation of Miss in the headline.

    I’m not sure why Hyper are struggling so much: they used to be really good.

    1. Northern Wolf says:

      Considering Hyperoptic won’t usually touch non-MDUs with a barge pole, their rollout progress was always going to slow down once they had done all the easy MDUs.

    2. Matthew says:

      Check their job vacancies. There’s multiple listings for project delivery managers, installation engineers, cable splicers and support engineers in multiple regions. If I had to guess, they’re trying to increase their capacity to complete installations and maintain their network.

      I like Hyperoptics’ ethos and hope they can regain their momentum.

  6. Belly Monster says:

    On my recommendation Hyperoptic cabled up a block of flats in the Docklands, fried of mine is the MD for the management company and it’s been nothing but embarrassing. The works done but they just fail to reply to call back when promised and unable to give a go live date. My friend took out a new contract with BT only yesterday and advised other leaseholders to give them a miss.

  7. JamesW says:

    I’ve been trying to get them to install for 3.5 years. Finally got surveyed last March (2020). Was told it would be £7200 to install which was too much. Waited till they announced invisilight in January 2021 ish. They had to survey again in July. To which they said it would be £3600 to install. I gave them the order to get it done we even paid for the wayleave from the free holder. To this day I am still waiting for an install date. Sad thing is, we’ve now put the flat on the market. So may never be able to use it.

    1. Matt says:

      Well that was stupid

  8. Matt says:

    Couldn’t of guessed that as thay been in Welwyn for year or so now maybe and still no progress

  9. David says:

    We have a building which is already wired. The survey happened in April and the wayleave was signed shortly after. This should have been a quick win covering hundreds of apartments.

    Hyperoptic project managers are almost impossible to get hold of. We are assured it’s happening but several months on no work has started on site.

  10. Neil says:

    Patience is certainly a virtue, my block was wired in Dec 20 and eventually went line in Aug 21 having missed April and June dates.
    However I’m glad I waited, the service is rock solid and their customer service help with things like porting numbers is exemplary.
    If you can get It, I would have no hesitation in recommending it.

  11. Leslie Ingley says:

    They were supposed to install into our blocking in Birmingham After about seven month even though there was full fibre in the block a lot of of Tenants have given up and gone to other providers when I ask I was told they Don’t install unless there is enough interest but it wasn’t any advertisement about the service coming

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