BDUK to cease releasing performance indicator data
The ceasing of the Broadband Performance Indicator reports by the DCMS is going to upset some people, but with the bulk of the delivery now over and the increasing complexity of tracking delivery figures even though the volume is decreasing means that stopping publication around March 2018 does make some sense. There was a consultation that took place towards to the end of 2017, and there was actually no responses to the consultation on stopping the publication of this dataset, thus sealing its fate – admittedly we were not aware of the consultation and suspect the same applies to others. The performance indicator has tracked on a quarterly basis what the numerous projects have reported in terms of premises and while it never summarised the full spending since only funding from Westminster was counted it did give an idea on what the cost per premises was looking like.
We expect the number of premises delivered in the first quarter of 2018 to be substantially lower than what other recent quarters have shown and this is down to so many projects racing towards a 31st December 2017 target date and they are now concentrating on infill cabinets and FTTP deployments or in a procurement phase.
We do track the levels of coverage for the BDUK areas, but the caveats are growing as firms like Gigaclear and Airband build their contracted areas and the tactical deployment of Openreach GEA-FTTP. Additionally there is also the complication that Virgin Media does partially overlap some cabinets in many cases prior to the BDUK enabled roll-outs and in some cases commercial expansion has come to cabinets after a local authority got a cabinet enabled for VDSL2. From our figures for 22nd February we had tracked 6,338,883 premises on what we believe are publically funded cabinets, and the overall superfast coverage was 91.7% over 24 Mbps (down to 90.8% using 30 Mbps and faster definition), this gives a premise count well in excess of the Westminster figure, but once you allow for the 1 million premises of Virgin Media we end up getting close enough that we don’t disagree with their figures.
Given the official figures are due to cease and as far as we are aware Ofcom do not release anything trying to identify the BDUK footprint specifically we now plan to add a further metric to our system for the BDUK dataset, i.e. number of premises that have gained superfast broadband excluding those who can also get Virgin Media broadband.
The recent passing of the 95% superfast target was followed by a wave of ‘we do not believe it, because my village has nothing like that level of coverage’ and looking at a random example like Warwickshire where the urban/rural premises split is 68% urban and 32% rural the superfast coverage figures 99.7% in the urban areas and 89.7% in the rural areas.
So yes rural areas are often still lagging behind their urban counterparts and in places like Devon it drops to 80% in the rural areas and the urban/rural split is 47% urban, 53% rural with the urban areas well ahead in the superfast stakes at 98.9%.