Advanced Television

Data: Modest growth in UK broadband market

June 24, 2024

Total Q1 2024 FTTH/P/B, FTTC, cable, FWA/satellite and DSL wholesale and retail connections in the UK saw a very slight increase during the quarter and stood at an estimated 28.9 million from 28.86 million quarter-on-quarter and similar to 28.89 million in the previous year, according to data from Point Topic.

The fixed broadband retail market remained relatively static with ~38k net broadband subscriber additions compared to ~29k net additions in Q4 2023, and -65k at the close of Q1 2023.

In January 2024, FTTP coverage stood at just over 20.7 million premises (64.7 per cent), up from 18.7 million in Q4 2023; across the UK, 19 per cent of premises still lacked gigabit access, down from 21 per cent three months earlier.

Point Topic estimates that BT’s Consumer division (which includes business) saw an overall loss of ~66k subscribers; compared to Q4 2023 this represented around a 0.62 per cent decrease in the retail segment, but saw strong growth in its FTTP base adding 258k FTTP connections to reach ~2.58 million up 40 per cent year-on-year.

BT Group’s revenue growth declined to -0.2 per cent due to quarterly one-offs as the Group restructured its offices and paid lease terminations, dealt with historical billing inaccuracies in the Business segment along with its Consumer division seeing a slump in equipment sales, which was slightly offset by its fixed segment’s performance of 5.8 per cent growth due to increased ARPU.

Openreach’s FTTP connections increased by 397k q-o-q and reached 4.7 million, up from 4.3 million. Openreach hit its pace FTTP rollout target of 1 million premises passed during the quarter which will see it reach its build target of 25 million premises by the end of 2026; its average build rate reached 78k premises per week with a footprint of 13.81 million premises.

For the other major ISPs, Vodafone had the strongest quarter with ~52k broadband net additions, followed by Sky with ~29k, while Virgin Media O2’s (VMO2) performance was less impressive with ~5k additions.

VMO2’s broadband customer base increased to 5.72 million but its overall in-footprint penetration rate decreased to 33.3 per cent compared to Openreach’s 34 per cent. VMO2’s FTTP fixed network deployment (primarily on behalf of nexfibre) passed 1 million premises throughout the year; an additional 194k were added in Q1 2024 down from 299k.

Comcast, Sky UK’s parent company, reported 65k net losses in its international connectivity markets; however, Point Topic estimates Sky UK to have added around 29k broadband net adds to close the quarter with 5.77 million broadband subscribers.

Independent (or AltNet) providers also struggled with economic headwinds as they have slowed down their FTTP network rollouts to focus on subscriber take-up, and saw ~70k net additions down slightly from around ~80k additions in the previous quarter.

In May, CityFibre reported that its ‘customer connections now exceed 400,000, an increase of 77 per cent year-on-year.’ Its network covered 3.6 million premises with 3.3 million being ready for service.

During Q4 Vodafone’s fixed broadband consumer base grew by 3 per cent (up from 2.1 per cent in Q3) and saw 39k net additions, up from 27k in the previous quarter, bringing its customer base to 1.33 million.

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