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Top 16 Full Fibre Broadband Networks by Estimated UK Coverage UPDATE

Friday, Feb 2nd, 2024 (8:30 am) - Score 8,600
fibre to the home broadband

The latest data from Thinkbroadband has provided an informative independent assessment of how big – in terms of network coverage (premises passed) – the top 16 largest Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP networks in the UK have become by January 2024. In this article, we compare that data against official coverage claims.

One of the difficulties with keeping tabs on the rapid UK growth of full fibre broadband networks is that some operators often make coverage claims that are difficult to independently verify. This is relevant because, over the years, we’ve sometimes found that the official “premises passed” figures put out by some network operators may not entirely reflect reality.

NOTE: At the end of 2023 over 60% of the UK could access a FTTP/B network, rising to c.80% for gigabit-capable broadband – that’s FTTP/B and Hybrid Fibre Coax combined (here).

For example, in some cases those figures could include part-built networks that aren’t fully live yet and, in other cases, the network may be technically built, but customers in some of the covered areas won’t be able to get it ordered or installed by an ISP (i.e. not yet truly “Ready for Service” – RFS). Similarly, providers sometimes make mistakes in their data (example).

The latest State of Broadband Report (Jan 2024) from TBB is thus extremely useful because we get a fairly up-to-date run down of how much coverage has been independently verified to exist (RFS) across the largest alternative network (AltNet) operators in the full fibre space. As a result, we can take TBB’s data below and then compare it with the official coverage claims from UK fibre operators.

Naturally, there are a few caveats to consider when doing this, which need to be reflected for the proper context. Firstly, TBB is not perfect, and they do sometimes miss bits and pieces of network coverage (please email them if you spot this). Secondly, conducting independent analysis of network builds like this is slow and laborious work, thus over the years we’ve tended to perceive that TBB’s latest data can be 2-3 months behind actual build.

Such a time lag, which is likely to vary between operators, may not seem like much, but it can create disproportionately large gaps between independent and official figures. Big gaps are most likely to occur during the early ramp-up phase of a new network build, where smaller networks may go from having a few tens of thousands of premises passed to hundreds of thousands, all within the space of a year (some networks are still in this phase).

In short, it’s wise not to make the mistake of automatically inferring that a big gap is because an AltNet may be overstating their coverage. In addition, we’ve also dated the official claims below as most operators only very occasionally provide an update on their build progress, which will thus be out of step with TBB’s latest modelling.

Top 16 Largest UK Full Fibre Networks by Coverage – Jan 2024

Operator Premises Jan 2024 (Jul 2023) – TBB Analysis
Official Claim
Openreach (BT) 12.5m (10.9m) 13m – Feb 2024
CityFibre 2.9m (2.3m) 3.5m Built (3.2m RFS) – Jan 2024
Virgin Media (RFOG) 1.5m (1.5m) It’s complicated (see below)
CommunityFibre 1.3m (1.1m) 1.2m – July 2023
Hyperoptic 1.1m (1m) 1.4m – Oct 2023
Netomnia (YouFibre) 745,000 (556,000) 730,000 – Nov 2023
Nexfibre (Virgin Media) 546,000 559,000 – Nov 2023
Brsk 390,000 (190,000) 358,000 (346,000 RFS) – Nov 2023
Gigaclear 389,000 (343,000) 500,000 Built (430,000 RFS) – Sept 2023
Trooli 334,000 (283,000) 219,000 – Dec 2022
Fibrus 291,000 (238,000) 300,000 (273,000 RFS) – Aug 2023
KCOM 276,000 (267,000) 297,000 – Mar 2023
G.Network 248,000 (255,000) 400,000 – May 2022
ITS Technology (mostly biz fibre) 187,000 (185,000) No recent official data
Zzoomm 182,000 (150,000) 185,000 – Dec 2023
FullFibre Limited 172,000 300,000 – Jan 2024 (but this includes DI/BeFibre)

We aren’t going to micro analyse each operator above, but most of TBB’s real-world focused estimates of Ready for Service (RFS) coverage are roughly where we’d expect them to be when compared with official claims. But there are a few specific caveats to point out above for certain operators.

Firstly, Virgin Media’s network is currently in the middle of a major upgrade, which is seeing XGS-PON based FTTP being deployed into areas that could previously only access their Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) network. Currently, it’s a little bit difficult to track these XGS areas, and thus TBB has only included the figure for their older Radio Frequency Over Glass (RFOG) based FTTP build.

Meanwhile, the nexfibre build is technically a separate company and so gets its own entry, despite only selling packages via Virgin Media. The nexfibre figures also haven’t yet been updated to add 175,000 premises from Upp’s recent merger, but we’re expecting the company to do that in their next batch of quarterly results.

The TBB figure for FullFibre Limited should also be viewed cautiously because it doesn’t yet reflect the fact that they’ve just merged with Digital Infrastructure’s (BeFibre) network. Similarly, we suspect that AllPoints Fibre will appear on their list once TBB has updated their methodology to include the fact that Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre and Giganet have now merged into the one network.

Speaking of mergers, TBB has also missed out Freedom Fibre, which currently claims to have 285,000 premises passed after merging with VXFIBER (LilaConnect). But many of these mergers are fairly recent and it will take time for the internal changes to filter through into TBB’s modelling.

One other unusual entry above is G.Network’s TBB coverage figure, which has actually fallen, and we’re currently trying to find out why. But in any case, the real-world coverage remains well behind GN’s official claim from all the way back in 2022 (we haven’t had an updated one).

Finally, it’s important to remember that a lot of these FTTP networks are overbuilding rivals in different parts of the country, particularly around dense urban locations. But if we were to just look at the UK coverage of alternative networks (excluding Openreach, Virgin Media and KCOM) then they’d reach 30.78% of premises.

UPDATE 9am

According to TBB, the reason for the slight fall in their G.Network coverage figures this time around (from 255k to 248k) is because some of the homes in MDU buildings, where they were previously detected, can no longer order the service. But it’s unclear why that has occurred.

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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
12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Most exaggerate coverage to try to keep their backers happy

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The majority of those listed above actually seem to be tracking at about the right level, in terms of their official claims vs independent figures.

  2. Avatar photo Jamie says:

    The issue with all this we aren’t comparing apples with apples ie RFS nor THP is never explicitly defined- what does it actually mean?

    1. Avatar photo Andrew Ferguson says:

      Should be RFS as in place an order today and be connected in next week or two.

      Hence why figures line up to CityFibre RFS data rather than CityFibre THP

  3. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    As BT/OR are a publicly listed company they are no doubt required to be more accurate with their reporting than the privately backed altnets. Hence why their claimed figure is very close to the TBB figure.

  4. Avatar photo John says:

    Gnetwork claiming 400k almost 2 years ago and barely being above half of that number today is astonishing

  5. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    Not surprised Trooli is that high – keep seeing reports they covered my town and street but in practice they picked the easy PIA address and skipped everything else – For example the first half of the odd numbers on my street can order it but no one else can (including myself even though their cables go through openreach ducts and access cover at the end of my drive).

    Glad to see you’ve covering the impact All points fibre merging will have but interestingly its all still going under the giganet name here including roadworks. I also expect Nexfibre will jump given the rollout rates I’ve seen here.

  6. Avatar photo The Provisioner says:

    RFS and THP doesn’t mean any Sales are actually being made.

    I wonder how many of these companies are simply amassing debt rather than customers.

  7. Avatar photo Simon says:

    My G.Network installation to our Marylebone flat was cancelled in May 2023 – the reason given was “costs of carrying out further street works which would be required in order to be able to connect you. The costs would be over £8,000.” This was after three years of waiting due to multiple surveys, wayleaves etc. We were given an initial installation date in April 2023 which was then pushed back twice before being cancelled. I think they made a decision to drop installations where the costs exceeded a certain threshold. Possibly the installation could have proceeded with a payment of several thousands of poounds but in the end we just kept our Three 5G Home Broadband connection which works fine.

    1. Avatar photo Sam says:

      This is insane, when I was living in Marylebone they had closed a part of the road all the way from the exchange to near the station for many months. This is central London. To think that they actually still can’t connect any customers is absurd

  8. Avatar photo Bob says:

    My view is it is only AVAILABLE if you can actually order it. Many Alt Nets uses various definitions of available which frequently does not mean it is available to order

  9. Avatar photo benter says:

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    225+ live channels
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    Source:
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Comments are closed

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