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Broadband Britain slowly switches to superfast

Links faster than 25Mbps reach into one per cent of UK homes, says Point Topic...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor on

Links faster than 25Mbps reach into one per cent of UK homes, says Point Topic...

Union Jack: Broadband Britain is getting faster, slowly

About one per cent of UK homes are now hooked up to superfast broadband, says Point TopicPhoto: Nic McPhee

Superfast broadband is starting to catch on in the UK, according to a report by broadband analyst Point Topic, which estimates the number of next-gen connections will pass the quarter-of-a-million mark this month.

While the number of homes hooked up to superfast broadband in excess of 25Mbps remains modest - at just one per cent of UK homes - the analyst reckons the technology could follow the uptake of the first generation of broadband, which grew from humble beginnings to more than 13 million lines within five years. Today there are more than 19 million broadband lines, according to Point Topic.

"It's dangerous just to assume that history will repeat itself but it's still a good pointer to what will happen to superfast broadband in this decade," said Point Topic chief analyst Tim Johnson in a statement.

According to the analyst, there were 175,000 superfast broadband lines by the end of 2010. Most - about 118,000 - were for Virgin Media customers signed up to its 50Mbps cable broadband service, which launched in 2008. The remainder - numbering some 57,000 - were customers getting superfast broadband over telecoms infrastructure owned by BT and alternative network operators.

Point Topic estimates the number of superfast broadband lines grew to about 236,000 by the end of March - and should exceed 250,000 between now and the end of April.

Virgin Media's customers are served superfast broadband using the Docsis 3 broadband standard over coaxial cable. By the end of last year, some 3,700 of BT's customers had fibre broadband all the way to their homes via fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology, which typically offers up to 100Mbps download speeds. The remainder were served with fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) tech, which supports up to 40Mbps broadband.

Last month, Virgin Media had almost two-thirds, 62 per cent, of the UK's superfast broadband customers, according to Point Topic stats, with BT taking just over a third, 36 per cent, and alternative network operators accounting for about two per cent.

Fewer than one in 50 households, 0.02 per cent, in the UK had a superfast broadband connection at the end of 2009, according to an Ofcom report published late last year.

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