Since 2013, the Government’s £1.7bn publicly funded Broadband Delivery UK scheme has helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to 5,076,552 extra premises.
If you’re not familiar with the scheme, Building Digital UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has been delivering superfast broadband and local full fibre networks to the nation.
The government has:
- supported investment to provide superfast broadband coverage to as many premises as possible beyond the 95% level achieved in December 2017
- introduced a broadband Universal Service Obligation so that by 2020 everyone across the UK will have a clear, enforceable right to request high speed broadband
- provided access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all for those who do not currently have coverage otherwise
- supported the stimulation of private investment in full fibre connections through a programme that is currently funded through to March 2021
Superfast Broadband Programme
For over 96% of UK premises, the government has ensured superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps or more) coverage. It has also provided universal access to basic broadband (speeds of at least 2Mbps).
If you would like to check whether superfast broadband is available in your area, you can use the superfast broadband postcode checker. To find out more details about what is happening in your local area try using their Google Map.
Do you have broadband access which is less than 2Mbps? If so, you can find out what options are available to you using the Basic Broadband Scheme site.
If you would like more information on the government’s approach to delivering superfast broadband and what is available, have a read of the UK Next Generation Network Infrastructure Deployment Plan.
Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme
It was identified by The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, published in July 2018, that approximately 10% of UK premises, largely in rural and remote locations, would be unlikely to receive gigabit capable (full fibre) connections by 2033. In May of this year, the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme commenced and will run until the end of March 2021.
To ensure that the final 10% of premises are addressed at the same pace of the rest of the UK, the RGC programme takes the the first step of the “Outside In” approach.
Additional funding for Welsh Premises
What with our Director’s wife being Welsh, and having experienced rural Welsh Wi-Fi for myself whilst on holiday over the summer, it interested us to know that from March of this year, businesses and residents in Wales are eligible for additional funding from the Welsh Government towards the cost of installing gigabit capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.
For small and medium-sized businesses (SME), the Welsh Government will pay up to an additional £3,000 as well as up to £300 more per resident in order to help connect harder to reach places in Wales.
The eligibility rules (and the scheme terms and conditions) are the same as for the rest of the UK – you can check if you are eligible and then look up a supplier in your area through the postcode search.
For funding towards resident-only broadband connections you can visit Access Broadband Cymru. For more information on the Welsh Gigabit Voucher Scheme see https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/wales/.
BDUK Phases and Take Up
The take up figures reflect the percentage of homes and businesses that have chosen to sign-up with a superfast broadband network (delivered via FTTC, FTTP “full fibre” or Fixed Wireless Access), specifically those which have been delivered via support from the BDUK programme (i.e. % subscribed of premises passed).
At present this data is split between the first two phases of the programme and some related phase 2 extension contracts. Phase 1 was broadly dominated by Openreach’s (BT) contracts, while the on-going Phase 2 contracts have attracted a mix of extension deals alongside BT and several alternative network providers.
BDUK Phase 1 (Finished Spring 2016)
Supported by £530m of public money via the Government (mostly extracted from a small slice of the BBC TV Licence fee), as well as significant match funding from local authorities and the EU. The public funding is then roughly matched by BT’s private investment. Overall it helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to cover 90% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom.
Overall 55.25% of premises have adopted the new service (up from 52.4% in September 2018).
BDUK Phase 2 (Technically on-going)
Supported by £250m of public money via the Government, as well as match funding from local authorities, Local Growth Deals and private investment from suppliers (e.g. BT, Gigaclear, Airband, Call Flow etc.). This phase extended superfast broadband services to 95% of premises in time for the end of 2017, although some contracts are on-going until c.2020 and will reach beyond 95%.
So far in this phase an overall total of 39.59% (up from 35.7% in September 2018) of premises have adopted the new service and some projects have yet to report.
Factors affecting deployment
There are many and varying factors that could affect the % of take up.
- Earlier phases of the roll-out were easier and faster to deploy, so you could expect to see a bit of a yo-yo movement with the take-up % sometimes falling if lots of new areas were suddenly covered.
- Some contracts are in younger stages than others and hence will take time to catch-up.
- As it reaches more remote rural areas, BDUK’s roll-out pace has slowed, which will in turn give take-up a chance to climb.
- Higher prices for related “fibre” services
- Customers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP meaning they are not able to immediately upgrade
- A lack of general awareness about the existence of faster services
- A lack of interest in the new connectivity e.g. if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed and only basic needs then you might not feel as inclined to upgrade
- There may be a fear of switching to a different ISP
- The new service may run out of capacity if the demand is higher than expected. This would mean that those who do want to upgrade could be prevented from doing so until the problem is
For more information on the BDUK Superfast Broadband scheme you can check out this website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/building-digital-uk.