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Ultrafast broadband premises passed in the UK

This is our bi-monthly update on broadband infrastructure deployments in the UK, tracking the progress since our latest update for August 2022. The analysis is based on the ThinkPoint broadband availability dataset which includes 1.7m postcode. More granular, postcode level broadband availability updates by ISP and technology, are available to our ThinkPoint customers.

Key headlines:

  • As of the end of end-October 2022, FTTP networks passed 41% of the UK premises, up from 38% two months earlier.
  • Across the UK, 29% of premises did not have access to gigabit capable broadband, down from 30% recorded in August 2022.
  • In 23% of local authorities the FTTP coverage was lower than 20% of premises. It was 50% or higher in 26% of local authorities.
  • Across the UK, 925K premises could choose between three independent fibre ISPs, with Coventry being top of the charts in this category.
  • More than 1.7m premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers.

Openreach network deployment
In September and October 2022, we recorded a similar pace in the Openreach full fibre rollout, compared to the previous two months. We found 451,000 additional FTTP premises, which resulted in our total recorded FTTP footprint of 8.2 million premises (26% of all UK premises). As in previous months, the number of Openreach ADSL, FTTC only and Gfast only premises continued to decline, with the focus staying on FTTP deployment, aimed at covering 25 million premises by the end of 2026. To achieve this goal, Openreach would need to cover around 4m premises a year from now on, while we recorded 2.8m new FTTP premises passed by them in the last 12 months. Unless they accelerate the rollout, the end-2026 goal will be missed.

In terms of the percentage of total premises passed by Openreach FTTP, cities, towns and regions outside London and the South East dominate, with Northern Ireland especially well covered. Belfast continues to be at the top of the list with 93% of premises passed by Openreach FTTP.

As of the end of October 2022, the overall FTTP coverage, including Openreach FTTP network, independent fibre networks, Virgin Media O2’s RFOG network and KCOM was almost 13m premises (41% of the UK total). This metric was up from 38% two months earlier. Table 2 lists top and bottom ten UK local authorities (LAs) by FTTP coverage in this period.

As of October 2022, in 23% of UK local authorities the FTTP coverage was still lower than 20% of premises. This figure was down from the 27% of LAs we reported two months earlier. The FTTP coverage was 50% or higher in 26% of local authorities, up from 23% of LAs two months earlier.

Virgin Media O2 footprint upgrades
Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) had already announced the completion of its gigabit broadband rollout, hence we found only 55K additional VMO2 gigabit premises between the end of August 2022 and the end of October 2022.

With 1.2 million RFOG premises passed, VMO2 are the third largest FTTP network operator in the UK after Openreach and CityFibre. The operator is planning to extend this further by building FTTP to 5 million homes by 2026 through a joint venture between Liberty Global, Telefonica and InfraVia and making the network available to other providers on a wholesale basis. They may add another 2 million homes to this project at a later date.

As of October 2022, VMO2’s gigabit network covered 82% of local authorities and 49% of the total UK premises. In 188 (50%) of LAs VMO2’s gigabit coverage was 50% and higher, while in 29% it was lower than 20%. Significant parts of the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Scotland and Wales (18% of UK LAs) had no VMO2 gigabit coverage.

Independent fibre providers
The independent fibre network operators are also getting on with full fibre rollouts. As of the end of October 2022, our figures showed CityFibre leading the way with 1.6m FTTP premises covered by their network. The operator aims to pass 8m premises by end-2025. Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen remained the largest retail providers using CityFibre network.

Hyperoptic had the second largest independent FTTP network with more than 0.7m premises passed, and their plan is to cover 2 million homes by the end of 2023.

Community Fibre was a close third with over 0.7m premises passed, followed by GNetwork with around 0.4m and Gigaclear with almost 0.3m. Trooli and ITS are approaching 0.2m premises. We recorded the highest growth in premises passed since August 2022 for ZZoomm and Brsk, at 88% and 59% respectively (among providers with at least 50K premise

Network overlap by independent fibre providers has increased further. (We are now including in this category independent network operators as well as retail ISPs using their networks. For example, multiple ISPs are selling fibre broadband supplied by the CityFibre network.)

In October 2022, 69 local authorities had overlapping networks from three independent fibre ISPs, up from 66 LAs two months earlier. Coventry, Peterborough and Milton Keynes led the way in terms of the percentage of premises covered by three FTTP providers, with 77%, 76% and 73% respectively. Coventry is top of the list by the number of premises covered with 118K.

Across the UK, more than 925K premises in 41,000 postcodes could choose between three independent fibre ISPs. These figures were up from 800K and 38,000 postcodes in August 2022.

Another 125 local authorities had two independent fibre providers overlapping, up from 120 two months earlier. London and the Southeast were well represented in this category, but not exclusively.

Overall more than 1.7m UK premises had access to two or more independent fibre providers in October 2022, compared to 1.6m in August 2022. In total, independent fibre providers passed 5.3 million premises, having added half a million premises in September and October 2022.

Across the UK, 29% of premises still do not have access to gigabit capable broadband (either the Virgin Media O2 or an FTTP network). This metric is 47% in Wales and 37% in Scotland. In England it is 28%, while Northern Ireland is the least ‘gigabit deficient’ with 13% of premises not passed by a gigabit network. Compared to August 2022, these percentages went down by 1% in England, Scotland and Wales, and by 2% in Northern Ireland. Point Topic

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