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IHS: UK broadband connections to grow 70pc in five years

Paul Withers
March 9, 2016

Surge to 15.5 million connections driven by driven by new entrants to high-speed market that offer an alternative to BT

Global analyst firm IHS has forecasted that UK broadband connections will grow by 70 per cent to 15.5 million by 2020.

In new findings from its report on the outlook of the UK telecommunications sector, IHS claimed the surge from almost nine million connections at the end of last year will be driven by new entrants into the high-speed broadband market.

IHS Technology senior analyst Fiona Vanier said that while BT is currently leading the charge, alternative operators have entered the market using fibre-to-the-premises technology to increase coverage.

Infrastructure supplier CityFibre, which was founded in January 2011, now owns and operates 618km of local access networks in more than 50 UK towns and cities. By 2020, it is planning to increase its coverage area from 15 per cent of all UK households to 20 per cent.

Key players

“This means that internet service providers looking to move into certain towns or cities may have the option of choosing CityFibre as a wholesaler instead of BT,” said Vanier.

“Key players in the UK broadband market, such as Sky and TalkTalk, already recognise CityFibre as a viable alternative to BT Openreach, and a number of significant agreements have been signed with CityFibre over the last 12 to 18 months.”

CityFibre is concentrating on exploiting its existing networks in small- to medium-sized towns and cities and as a result, it has launched six gigabit city projects in York, Peterborough, Coventry, Aberdeen Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Attractive alternatives 

IHS said ISPs operating in these cities can offer attractive alternative high-speed products completely independent from BT Openreach and in direct competition with BT Infinity.

It added that in contrast, companies such as Gigaclear and B4RN are targeting potential customers in UK-based rural areas which are of minimal commercial interest to BT.

“Gigaclear has found its niche in the market,” said Vanier. With take-up rates as high as 40 per cent, it is clear the company is expanding quickly in key areas in the UK.”

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