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UPD Analyst Claims UK Superfast Broadband Progress is Falling Behind Expectations

Posted: 17th May, 2011 By: MarkJ
point topicTelecoms analyst Point Topic has claimed that the roll-out of Next Generation Access (NGA) superfast broadband ISP services around the UK has fallen "a long way behind" the governments plan, with consumer take-up also proving to be almost equally "sluggish".

The group claims that its latest Broadband Infrastructure Index, which measures broadband coverage and prospects, has fallen from 55% to 53% over the past six months. There are a number of reasons for this, such as the stalled deployment of 100Mbps FTTH by CityFibre Holdings in Bournemouth, Dundee and a slower than expected rollout of BT's 40Mbps FTTC service (reached 182 exchanges by the end of 2010 instead of the forecast 343).

Alternative network providers (altnets), such as Vtesse Networks, have also had to cut back on their own roll-out plans due to the economic realities, a lack of timely progress on the core regulatory issues (e.g. access to BT's cable ducts at a fair price, fibre taxation etc.) and the delays or market distortion caused by councils awaiting cash handouts from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office (damages alternative projects).

Tim Johnson, Chief Analyst at Point Topic, said:

"Alternative networks are finding the going quite hard at the moment. They’re in danger of being sidelined by BT and the big ISPs. But these initiatives could play a vital part in creating demand for superfast broadband to the great benefit of local communities."

The good news is that Point Topic does expect BT's FTTC rollout to get back on track and thus reach its 2015 coverage target of 66%. However, they warn that fewer consumers than expected will adopt the new services and have revised their forecast down to 6.7m lines from 8.8m (excludes stats for Virgin Media's cable network).

Point Topic suggests that one way to help close the gap is to encourage the development of more community initiatives like the recent BT Race to Infinity competition, which would help to both raise more awareness of the issues and promote the benefits of a faster connection.

UPDATE 18th May 2011

We suspected that PT's figure for FTTC enabled exchanges at the end of 2010 (i.e. 182) was a little on the low side and according to BT it is. The operator informs that 330 were live by the end of last year.
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