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BDUK Identify 2.87m Premises in England for Help to Get Gigabit Broadband

Wednesday, Mar 15th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 2,768

The Government’s Building Digital UK agency has published the results of their latest quarterly Rolling National Open Market Review (NOMR) process, which reveals that 2,866,478 premises across England are currently classed as being unlikely to get a gigabit-capable broadband ISP network within the next 3 years.

Just to recap. The Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme aims to help extend networks capable of delivering 1000Mbps download speeds to “at least” 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, which they hope will then reach “nationwide” coverage (c.99%) by 2030 (here). Commercial operators are currently expected to deliver the first 80% of that, leaving Project Gigabit to focus on the final 20% of hardest to reach areas.

NOTE: 47% of the UK can already access a “full fibre broadband” (FTTP/B), rising to 73.5% for “gigabit-capable” networks (FTTP/B and Hybrid Fibre Coax).

The first step in tackling this often involves the need to conduct an Open Market Review (OMR) and Public Review (PR) of network coverage, which helps to identify precisely which areas are not expected to benefit from gigabit speeds under existing commercial builds over the next 3 years. The NOMR essentially does the same thing, but nationally, rather than at a more local level, and it’s run every 4 months.

We rarely cover the results of NOMRs as that would become repetitive, but it’s useful to publish a short update on them every year. The most recent September 2022 NOMR has just concluded its run and revealed that 2,866,478 premises in England are currently classed as “White” (i.e. premises with no gigabit connectivity and none likely to arrive within the next 3 years). This is where Project Gigabit is expected to focus its main effort.

However, it’s worth noting that a further 6,914,149 premises were also classified as being “Under Review“, which reflects premises where suppliers have reported current or planned commercial gigabit broadband coverage, but where those plans are at some risk of not being completed or the claimed coverage has not been verified. Gaps in supplied evidence by providers may also account for some of this figure.

According to the latest Winter 2023 Update from Project Gigabit, the total value of related procurements launched to date is around £1bn, which could see up to 730,000 extra UK premises being passed by a gigabit-capable network over the next few years. More procurements are in the pipeline and so these figures are expected to keep rising for the next couple of years, until the pipeline is fully swept.

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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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17 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

    A vaguely on-topic question about the remote 1%: For practical purposes, it’s fair to say all those properties have a twisted pair service under the historic USO? Given that the twisted pair (a) doesn’t last forever, and (b) is likely to be well into (or even beyond) its service life, and (c) mostly or entirely depreciated, then there’s an upcoming asset renewal cost whether OR like it or not. How does the cost of replacing copper with copper (the technical minimum OR will have to do sooner or later) compare to replacing copper with fibre? Appreciating of course that the focus is and should be on the mass rollout to more readily served properties, I still observe that as a nation we’re able to serve very remote properties with water, electricity, roads, and maintain/replace those assets, I find it curious that the telecoms sector are making such a meal of connecting the 1%.

    1. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      In reality not all of those properties will have access to the full range of utilities. The problem with providing broadband to them is who pays if you cannot subsidise the cost with profit from others – difficult in a competitive market.

      The alternative is to extract a USO levy from all providers, but can you imagine the reception to such an idea from INCA given its response to proposals for Openreach to make a small reduction in prices!

    2. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      I’d allowed for the fact that mains gas and sewerage are often not available at remote properties, but that’s an issue about first time provision of high cost per metre networks (even then mains water is similar yet widely if not universally available). But my question is about the fact that there is or soon will be a replacement need, so no do-nothing option. Electricity is already provided – if it ain’t they won’t be needing broadband, why not some USO for remote broadband? That’s why the question about relative costs.

      If the USO were simply gifted to OR then yes, there’s unhappiness by other companies, but easily solved through an auctioned USO and a regulated return asset approach, not dissimilar to the regulatory last mile independent networks in electricity, gas and water. Let INCA and anybody else bid for the work in regional blocks. We see government wasting money on satellite, drone and balloon ideas for remote broadband, and that ignores the obvious and simple solution, probably because there’s more reflected glory for politicians to weeble on about high tech solutions than the dull, hard work of getting on with hard to serve FTTP.

    3. Avatar photo 125us says:

      The last 10% of a ubiquitous rollout costs the same as the first 90. That means the rough heuristic is that rolling out eveywhere doubles everyone’s bills. If we had a single monopoly provider then tough – everyone pays double.

      In a competitive market though, city and town dwellers will just move to a cheaper provider and that subsidy then has to be met from a smaller set of cheaper to serve customers, pushing bills ever higher and driving more customers to leave. A death spiral results.

      Network builders will seek investors and borrowing to fund their rollouts. No-one will want to invest in a loss making proposition that will never see a return.

      Without regulatory or government intervention no-one will complete a 100% rollout. That’s why mains gas and sewers don’t reach everywhere. Ubiquitous electricity and phone and water rollouts were completed under effective national monopolies.

      There’s also the basic empiricism point. If reaching the last 10% could be achieved cost effectively and in a way that doesn’t scare investors away, someone would be doing it. Companies like to make money. If no-one is playing it’s because they can’t find a way to do it that makes financial sense.

    4. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      “The last 10% costs the same as the first 90%” – I’ve worked for big infrastructure businesses with USO’s in both power and water, so I’ll be most interested to see the source of that claim. But it still ignores my point that we do this for roads, electricity, water, for physical public services like refuse collection or post, AND these hard to reach properties already have a twisted pair connection that has a finite life, where Openreach are being paid to service the regulated assets involved, and that includes maintaining the asset through replacement cycles. All of which comes back to the unanswered question, what is the cost of replacing life expired copper with fibre, versus copper with copper?

    5. Avatar photo 125us says:

      90/10 is a widely used heuristic in telecoms. If anything it understates the reality. I recently had a quote from OR to deliver a service somewhere pretty remote that was almost £3M. No-one else would even quote for the service. That was for a single service to a single premises. The same amount would provide FTTP to maybe 10k premises in a dense area. Think about what that exponential cost law does to the overall bill. If £300 per premises passed is somewhere around the mean for the majority of the rollout, the last 10% only have to cost £2700 each to double the cost of the whole thing. Constructionrates.co.uk is currently showing a cost of £25 per metre for a shallow trench. A 100 metre trench nearly consumes that budget without any install work being done.

      And – copper doesn’t life expire like you think it does. Overhead cables are eventually damaged by UV, but a non-pressurised underground cable that’s been jointed and sealed correctly has a very, very long service life.

  2. Avatar photo Samuel H says:

    I just looked at the list and my postcode is on there and I know I can get gigabit speeds. Weird???

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Postcodes are like a high level view that only gives part of the story (i.e. there’s probably somebody in that postcode who can’t get gigabit speeds), but BDUK will generally consider this down to the premises level, I believe.

    2. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

      I’ve checked a few and they are reasonably accurate but include PAF errors and from what I can see VM HFC is included.

      What I can’t understand is why WHITE is not broken down into the forecast level of subsidy required. Assuming only a USO subsidy it will be approaching £10bn which is around twice the proposed Government funding. So BDUK should outline how they are going to address the issue long term as their Giga target will be probably met by commercial.

    3. Avatar photo Jim Weir says:

      Actually individual prems / postcodes are scored on an F grade from F20 (final 20%) to F1 (final 1%) but that is just internal to BDUK and determines the level of subsidy likely to be needed in any intervention.

      Obviously BDUK wouldn’t make that public as one operators F5 would be very different to another’s depending on build model and network proximity

  3. Avatar photo Phil says:

    @Mark Jackson – What does Grey Gigabit mean? Explain to me please!

    1. Avatar photo The Facts says:

      White – indicates premises with no gigabit network infrastructure and none is likely to be developed within 3 years. Annex C provides information on the technology ‘qualifying’ as gigabit-capable
      Black – premises with two or more qualifying gigabit infrastructures from different suppliers being available, or will be deployed in the coming 3 years
      Grey premises – a single qualifying gigabit infrastructure from a single supplier is available, or is to be deployed within the coming 3 years
      Under Review – premises where suppliers have reported planned commercial broadband coverage, but where those plans have been judged through the OMR as potentially being at risk of not being completed

      You may have it now or in the next 3 years is not helpful.

  4. Avatar photo SpreadsheetNovice says:

    Please excuse my ignorance I don’t use spreadsheets, what do the columns mean ? I think “C” is the no. of properties in the postcode – but D E and F ?

    1. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      Cols C, D, E, and F are the numbers of premises classed as black, grey, under review, and white respectively for the postcode given in col A

    2. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      Also, I’d encourage everyone who does not already have fttp, and particularly those who have had a failed fttp(b) project in their area, to check their postcode details during the public review phase after the OMR in an area. My and adjoining postcodes were (are still, but hopefully just until the Closure Notice report is published) attributed wrongly in the OMR results spreadsheet as grey when they should have been classified as white.

  5. Avatar photo A. N. Other says:

    Try your postcode in here https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
    Then check for individual building
    That might give some more detail within each postcode maybe?

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