alphaspirit -

UK altnets claim to outpace Openreach in UK fibre

Research from Independent Networks Cooperation Association finds that despite challenges, alternative broadband providers enjoyed robust growth in 2023

A study from de facto altnet trade body the Independent Networks Cooperation Association (INCA) has claimed the sector is collectively passing more UK homes with gigabit fibre networks than market-leading BT-owned provider Openreach.

INCA’s annual Metrics for the UK independent network sector report is generally regarded as an indication of the state of the altnets.

Produced in partnership with market analyst Point Topic, it set out a series of key figures that INCA said illustrates the continuing growth and successes of the sector, alongside some of the central concerns occupying the minds of altnet leaders over the past year. This includes the number of premises passed, customers connected, the current state of investment into the altnet sector, and the expectations and aspirations of the sector’s operators.

The topline finding of the report was that at the end of 2023, two million customers across the country were connected to fibre owned by an altnet. The net result was that the collective altnet footprint in terms of premises passed reached 12.9 million, or 35% of all UK premises.

INCA noted that this figure was greater than the estimated number of premises passed by Openreach fibre, what it called “a substantial achievement by any measure in such a short space of time”. INCA added that there’s an expectation this figure will reach 16.7 million by the end of 2024, with three million live connections anticipated.

This, said INCA, represented year-on-year growth in terms of premises passed of 57%, illustrating that despite continued economic headwinds, altnets have continued to deploy their networks at an impressive pace.

Drilling deeper into the data for trends, INCA added that more than half of premises in London can now get a fibre connection from at least one altnet, with other regions – including Yorkshire and the Humber, and the South East following very closely behind. Significantly, nearly seven million UK premises with access to a fibre connection can currently only get that fibre from an altnet.

Read more about UK altnets

Looking at live connections, the study found almost half a million customers chose to use altnet services in 2023, resulting in two million live connections in total – a year-on-year growth rate of 33%.

Independent review sites such as Trustpilot and Google Reviews consistently show that consumers rate Altnet providers much more highly than the mainstream national retailers. In terms of investment, new capital continued to flow into the sector over 2023 despite adverse conditions, with an estimated £7bn committed over the year.

The report also shone a light on the state of connectivity in those parts of the UK that communications regulator Ofcom believes would unlikely be served by any operator other than Openreach, so called Area 3.

The survey found altnets have deployed their fibre past three million Area 3 premises, approximately 32% of the total number. Its analysis projected that altnet fibre will pass around 4.5 million premises – 46% of Area 3 – by the end of 2025. By comparison, the survey calculated that Openreach fibre passed 3.7 million Area 3 premises (39%). This, said INCA, again highlighted the ambition and capability of altnet operators.

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

Data Center
Data Management