06/03/2018

With a new push to build more homes in the UK and particularly homes that people can afford to buy rather than million pound riverside penthouses the time is now to provide some data on the broadband situation for new premises built across the UK.

February saw the latest ONS postcode data set released (previous set was August 2017) and we ingested this in February and while the task of determining what services are available to all the new postcodes is not totally finished we have resolved new premises to give a very good idea of what is being delivered in January 2018 and across the whole of 2017.

The immediate take away is that new premises are being built and between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 are appearing without access to superfast broadband, and with the main bulk of the BDUK contracts now finished, the number of new homes built each year is going to put into jeopardy aims to reach 97-98% superfast coverage.

The levels of full fibre (FTTP) coverage are much higher in new premises compared to the 3.5% across the UK, but even so 35.5% coverage for the new premises we have found from January 2018 feels low compared to the rhetoric of the last year around delivering full fibre to new premises.

thinkbroadband analysis of broadband across the UK using ONS postcode introduction date to group premises
figures 4th March 2018
Area % fibre based
VDSL2 or
FTTP or
Cable
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% Ultrafast
100 Mbps or faster
% Full Fibre
and
Openreach FTTP
% Under 2 Mbps download % Below USO
10 Mbps download
1 Mbps upload
UK 2018
10,582 new premises
72.4% 69.3% 36.6% 35.5%

32.5%

0.1% 14.3%
UK 2017
117,721 new premises
77.3% 75.8% 33.2% 31%

26.3%

0.4% 12%
UK 2016
164,467 new premises
80.8% 79.9% 29.8% 26%

18.2%

0.2% 9.9%

The identification of premises only includes those in new postcodes, so small developments and flat conversions are not likely to be reflected in these figures. The data also does not include those postcodes where we have not determined the number of premises present or what broadband options are available, therefore we expect the number of premises for the UK 2017 set to continue to increase with perhaps another 40,000 to add in the next month.

The situation is highly variable and we have found some estates where premises built in 2016 are waiting on a VDSL2 cabinet going live but new premises built in late 2017 are going live with full fibre.

What is clear from our data is that a lot of new premises are slipping through the commercial broadband roll-out nets and Government and planning authorities need to address this now, otherwise the periodic stories in the press about people buying new homes and being stuck with slow broadband will continue. It is impossible to imagine 1 in 4 new homes being built with access to mains water and it should be the same with superfast broadband.

While our main table presents the UK wide picture, the situation varies considerably once you drill down to the regional level (we have data at the local authority level if there are specific requests for an area), London is clearly at the vanguard of the full fibre push due to the competition between Openreach and Hyperoptic mainly but areas like the East Midlands look to be behind the full fibre curve.

Superfast and full fibre coverage in London by year of premises construction
Levels of broadband coverage across London including premises falling under Legal USO
Superfast and full fibre coverage in East Midlands by year of premises construction
Levels of broadband coverage across East Midlands region including premises falling under Legal USO

There is a worrying trend in both of these graphs in that as more full fibre is available the levels of superfast coverage for premises built in each year seems to drop. In the East Midlands we may have only found 834 new premises in the January 2018 period but it should worry the authorities that only 40% have access to superfast broadband, now it may be that work on delivering full fibre or VDSL2 is not live for them yet but given how the levels are still only reaching 80% for premises built in 2014 it is easy to see why so many who have bought a new home are complaining.

We announced that the UK had reached 95% superfast coverage back on 29th January and the pace of roll-outs from the BDUK projects was already starting to tail off then and this does not look like a blip caused by the Christmas holidays as the number of new VDSL2 cabinets we are finding going live is a lot smaller than in the close of 2017 and so once you add the expansion our UK premises count from 28,914,859 premises on 28th January to 29,004,880 on 4th March mainly due to the new build premises you can see that there is a possibility of slipping below a UK wide 95% level. To date the roll-outs that continue are just about keeping ahead so we have gone from 95.0079% to 95.0335%.

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