Revealed - The Dec 2014 BDUK and BT "Fibre Broadband" Uptake Figures - ISPreview UK
The central Government’s national Broadband Delivery UK project, which is working with BT to deploy superfast “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) connectivity services across the United Kingdom, has just published the programmes latest take-up figures for December 2014. Adoption is rising rapidly and several more projects have now broken the 20% threshold. published the first full summary of uptake – by each local authority area – just before Christmas, which reflected data to September 2014. The latest update includes data gathered to the end of 2014 and follows shortly after the Government revealed that its BDUK scheme had helped to put the service within reach of an extra 2 million premises (here); total UK coverage of approximately 80%.

As before the following figures only reflect uptake in areas that have been upgraded through the BDUK and related state aid schemes, thus they do not include uptake achieved through purely commercial deployments, such as BT’s separate £2.5bn roll-out of FTTC/P to the first 66% of the United Kingdom or Virgin Media’s cable network.

Understanding uptake is important because most of the related BDUK contracts have a claw-back mechanism, which means that take-up beyond 20% (may vary between contracts) could trigger a return of some of the original investment and this can then be used to further extend coverage or improve service speeds.

One particularly optimistic estimate predicted that if 50% take-up were ever achieved, across the whole of the UK, then that could be worth as much as £270m. So it’s good to note that several projects have now passed the 20% mark or are very close to doing so, including Hampshire (19.5%), Surrey (23.6%), North Yorkshire (20.9%) and of course the more mature deployment in Rutland (36.7%).

BDUK Phase 1 Uptake Data (Dec 2014) – %

Berkshire Councils – 7.6
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire – 11.2
Cambridgeshire, Peterborough – 16.8
Central Beds, Bedford Borough, Milton Keynes – 11.6
Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington, Halton – 15.9*
Devon & Somerset (including, Plymouth, Torbay, North Somerset, Bath & NE Somerset) – 12.5
Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire – 12.8
Cumbria – 14.5*
Derbyshire – 6.7
Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole – 10.2
Durham, Gateshead, Tees Valley and Sunderland – 8
East Riding of Yorkshire – 4.6
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove – 10.7
Essex, Southend-On-Sea, Thurrock – 8.8
Greater Manchester – 4.4
Hampshire – 19.5
Herefordshire and Gloucestershire – 17.1*
Isle of Wight – 8.9*
Kent and Medway – 11.2
Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen – 12.3
Leicestershire – 6.5
Lincolnshire – 10.2
Merseyside – 6
Newcastle upon Tyne – 3.3
Norfolk – 12.7
North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire – 7.8
North Yorkshire – 20.9*
Northamptonshire – 16.3
Northumberland – 11.6
Nottinghamshire – 5.4
Oxfordshire – 11.8
Rutland – 36.7
Shropshire – 12.1
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent – 7.6
Suffolk – 15.8
Surrey – 23.6*
West Sussex – 11.8
West Yorkshire – 7.9
Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire – 14.9
Worcestershire – 9.3

Devolved Administrations

Highlands and Islands – 10.3 (up from 6.7% in Sept 2014)
Northern Ireland – 0.4** (unchanged – still only using Sept 2014 data)
Rest of Scotland – 8.7 (up from 5.81%)
Wales – 12.7* (up from 10.9%)
NOTE: Figures marked * have been provided directly by the Local Authority Project or are non-framework projects.

It is however important to point out that uptake is a dynamically scaled measurement, which means that at certain stages of the scheme it may go up or down depending upon the pace of deployment and other factors (though over time the direction should only go upwards).

Likewise several of the projects report far lower figures than others, which is partly due to the fact that some BDUK deployments were only started recently and others, such as Rutland (a strong figure of 36.7%, which is up from 32.7% in Sept 2014), have been going for quite some time and are now virtually complete (BDUK Phase 1).

Some of the other issues that can impact uptake include the higher prices being charged for FTTC/P services (less attractive), consumers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP (can’t upgrade yet), a lack of general awareness or interest in the new connectivity (i.e. if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed then you might be less inclined to upgrade) and concerns over the ease of migration.

Broadly speaking the results appear to be positive and at the very least are running well ahead of the Government’s expectations, not that this would be too difficult with some early projections expecting considerably less (here).