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2023 H2 – UK Full Fibre Broadband Cover Reaches 60.5 Percent

Tuesday, Jan 2nd, 2024 (12:25 pm) - Score 4,440
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The latest UK summary of fixed broadband coverage for H2 2023 has found that “full fibre” (FTTP) ISP networks have grown to reach 60.54% of premises (up from 52.77% in H1 2023) and 79.86% are within reach of “gigabit” speeds (up from 76.22%). Continue on to see details for England, Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland.

At present virtually all of this new gigabit (1000Mbps+ or 1Gbps+) class connectivity is coming from Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based network deployments via Openreach (BT), Virgin Media, KCOM, Hyperoptic, CityFibre, CommunityFibre, G.Network, Netomnia, Gigaclear and many others (Summary of Full Fibre Builds).

NOTE: The government’s £5bn Project Gigabit scheme aims to help extend gigabit-capable networks (1Gbps+ downloads) to “at least” 85% of premises by the end of 2025 and then “nationwide” (c.99%) by around 2030 (here). Most of this (c.80%) will be delivered via commercial builds.

The reason why gigabit coverage is so much higher than full fibre is down to the 14.3 million premises covered by Virgin Media’s older Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) network, which have already been upgraded to gigabit-capable DOCSIS 3.1 technology and are next being upgraded to FTTP by 2028. But gigabit coverage now grows at a slower pace because a lot of urban focused FTTP is overbuilding that HFC and deploying full fibre from scratch takes much longer.

Most of the progress on gigabit-capable coverage during 2023 is still down to commercial investment in FTTP, often with only a little support from the Government’s various voucher schemes. But the £5bn Project Gigabit scheme and its subsidised rollout are starting to have a small impact on this, albeit focused on the final 20% of hardest to reach premises.

Meanwhile, those still stuck in sub-10Mbps areas will, for the time being, be left with little option but to either try harnessing the flawed 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO), taking a satellite connection (Starlink is good, if you can afford it), conducting their own tests to see if a 4G or 5G mobile alternative might work from different operators (other than EE) or wait for a fixed line upgrade.

People taking the USO are being promised speeds of over 10Mbps, but at the end of the day some of those will find that they live in areas where not even the USO can cover the colossal upgrade costs (here and here). The government are currently still examining support options for remote premises and are also preparing to review the USO (here).

Listed below is the latest independent modelling from Thinkbroadband to the start of January 2024 (H2 – 2023). We should point out that the figure for ‘Under 10Mbps‘ doesn’t reflect 4G mobile coverage, which plays a part in the official USO but isn’t included in TBB’s mapping work. Sadly, it’s incredibly difficult to do an accurate model for mobile coverage, especially in terms of a specific performance level.

NOTE: The figures in brackets (%) represent the previous H1 – 2023 result to July 2023.

Fixed Broadband Network Availability H2 – 2023

Area 30Mbps+ Full Fibre Gigabit % Under 10Mbps
England 98.07% (97.90%) 60.06% (52.11%) 80.73% (77.09%) 0.64% (0.69%)
UK 97.81% (97.61%) 60.54% (52.77%) 79.86% (76.22%)
0.85% (0.94%)
Wales 96.90% (96.92%) 59.06% (49.45%) 67.58% (63.21%) 1.65% (1.59%)
Scotland 95.99% (95.61%) 54.82% (47.81%) 73.73% (69.77%) 2.26% (2.49%)
N.Ireland 97.70% (96.64%) 94.09% (92.27%) 94.68% (93.01%) 1.35% (2.10%)

NOTE: It’s very important to remember that Government / political coverage targets, like 85% for gigabit by 2025, reflect a national average, which can of course be better or worse for some areas (e.g. some counties may achieve higher coverage, while others could be well below that).

Take note that each devolved region (Scotland, Wales etc.) may have its own policy and targets, which all feed into the central UK figure. For example, while Northern Ireland may be behind on superfast speeds, their full fibre coverage is far ahead of other regions – nearing 95% – and they’ll thus be one of the first to achieve near universal coverage of gigabit speeds.

We also think it’s worth highlighting how much of an impact newer alternative networks (AltNets) are having on all this – excluding coverage by Openreach, KCOM and Virgin Media. Rival AltNets were found to have covered 30.06% of the UK with FTTP by H2 2023 (up from 23.64% in H1 2023). This breaks down to 31.75% in England (up from 25.04%), 10.72% in Wales (up from 6.81%), 25.26% in Scotland (up from 19.85%) and 29.39% in Northern Ireland (up from 23.45%). But the overall coverage impact will be lower due to overbuild, particularly in urban areas.

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 very latest real-world position. But it’s still one of the best and most up-to-date gauges that we have for checking against official claims (Ofcom’s own data tends to be several months behind TBBs).

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
19 Responses
  1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    Good to see that Wales’ coverage increased at a faster rate than anywhere else.

    I’m in a subtended headend area, and currently showing FTTP On Demand 1000Mbps as of Thursday last week.

    1. Avatar photo K says:

      I was going to get FTTP on demand. Openreach told me they wanted thousands to install it as there was no way i could get normal FTTP from them because of my area. Literally within a couple of weeks Openreach enabled my house for normal FTTP. If I was you I would wait and not order on demand as your area will probably get normal FTTP soon, saving you thousands.

    2. Avatar photo John says:

      Netomnia has done a good job covering many locations in South Wales

    3. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      FTTP on Demand (FoD) should not be confused with a native FTTP build as with FoD the home/small business owner has to pay for the physical civil engineering works of the network build, which often costs thousands of pounds.

    4. Avatar photo Andrew Ferguson says:

      FTTP on demand IS NOT IN THESE FIGURES

    5. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      I know all of the above.

      CBT was installed about 6 weeks ago and houses down the road made live 3 weeks ago, though they did get their CBTs around 2 weeks earlier.

      FTTP On Demand 1000Mbps is the product that shows in the days prior to the WBC FTTP going live; it was FTTP On Demand 330Mbps prior to that.

      Judging by my day at work today, the sooner it goes live the better.

    6. Avatar photo Rob says:

      John – Netomnia has done a good job covering many locations in South Wales

      I’m struggling to find a decent map of their coverage. Also their postcode checker requires you to enter contact details before they tell you whether you can get it. I’ve love to know their coverage in Swansea.

    7. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Update on this: now WBC FTTP available to order.

      Happy days.

    8. Avatar photo K says:

      RightSaidFred

      Good for you!

  2. Avatar photo SiC says:

    And of the
    UK’s
    30Mbps+ Full Fibre Gigabit
    97.81% 60.54% 79.86%
    a) what are the geographic coverages %of the UK’s ~250000 sqkm.
    b) what % are not achieving the 30M+, , and 10124Mbs
    c) what percentage’s of MGS are below the ‘headline’ claim values?

    And can we have these all for year on year since ‘superspeed/fttc started being implemented, or at least since the £5B of taxpayers money government ‘initiative’ please.

    1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Patches of land don’t subscribe to fixed-line broadband services, so area coverage is not a useful metric. I’d be surprised if anybody is gathering that information, or how you’d even qualify whether a square kilometre is served or not.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Given the numbers state 97.81% coverage at >30 Mb I’m going to speculate that 2.19% aren’t achieving 30 Mb.

      No-one is going to hold either that or the exact figures of speeds people are achieving: that’d be ridiculously expensive to collect and carry no value.

    3. Avatar photo 125us says:

      How much money would you have ISPs spend building out broadband capability to the places no-one lives? What a bizarre question.

  3. Avatar photo Grad says:

    Like to know where this info is pulled from. Live in the Crouch End area of London where the FTTP build was supposed to be complete in April 2023. Not even showing up to be built in the next year. 300 yards from the exchange with fibre in the road, and Openreach haven’t done anything in 18 months.
    Shambles

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      I feel your frustration.

      I’m in a small / low-rise MDU of 15 flats. We were supposed to get Hyperoptic (3ish?) years ago but that never happened (and I suspect the cost for a small MDU isn’t worth it to them). After that I got Openreach’s MDU team involved, did the leg work and handed over to our Property Management Officer as agreed at which point all FTTP installations were put on hold to allow for “safety review”. Two years later nothing has changed. Openreach started and completed their extensive build for the local area. Unfortunately the landlord continues to drag their heels and the PMO takes weeks to reply to my emails, if he answers at all. /sigh…

  4. Avatar photo Marcus Redbone says:

    What is the source of this? Is this from connected nations, or some other government report?

    1. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      The source appears to be Thinkbroadband.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      It does say if you read the article 🙂

  5. Avatar photo John Hobday says:

    We live circa 12 Km from Nottinham city centre. Our ISP only guarantees 2 Mbps but our average is 6 Mbps with frequent drop outs due to modem retraining ie if the SNR crosses a threshold.

    On our behalf our local MP has contacted our ISP who in turn spoke with Open Reach. The result is we meed to wait a few years for an improvement, given we do not wish to take up the possible offer of FTTPoD. We do not need or want a Gigabit service, a reliable 15 Mbps would suffice.

Comments are closed

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