Press Release | 21 Nov 2016


  • Vodafone UK welcomes Government’s plans for ‘full fibre’ connectivity – without a kick-start only 6.5% of UK homes will receive full fibre
  •  New research predicts that BT’s G.Fast rollout will increase UK ultrafast household coverage by less than 5%
  • BT G.Fast expected to be limited to people living within a few hundred metres of an existing superfast street cabinet

Vodafone UK welcomes the Government’s plans for ‘full fibre’ deployment to homes and businesses rather than BT’s interim measure of fibre to the cabinet coupled with much slower and less reliable copper line G.Fast technology.New, independent research commissioned by Vodafone predicts that under BT’s current plans, G.Fast will increase UK ultrafast household coverage by less than 5%.The research, produced by leading market intelligence company Point Topic, also reveals that unless action is taken only 6.5% of UK households can expect to receive gigabit-capable fibre-optic cables by 2020. In contrast, more than 80% of homes in Sweden and Spain are already passed by fibre and in Portugal the figure is now above 60%.  Portugal and Spain are expected to get to 95% Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) coverage by 2020.[1]

Vodafone commissioned the research in the absence of clear plans from BT for the roll out of either G.Fast or FTTP by region or constituency.

In addition, Point Topic predicts that up to 90% of any G.Fast roll-out will focus on areas which will also be covered by ultrafast cable and will only be offered to customers living within a few hundred metres of an existing superfast street cabinet.  These results are supported by BT’s own recently commissioned report from Analysys Mason[2], which suggests that up to 100% of BT’s G.Fast build will duplicate areas already covered by Virgin Media.

Vodafone UK Director of External Affairs Helen Lamprell, said: “We welcome the Government’s move to focus on providing full fibre and we call upon BT to be up-front with the British public about its roll out plans and acknowledge that G.Fast will do nothing to help those stranded on archaic and woefully inadequate broadband today. BT is pushing a muddled compromise rooted in the past, while the rest of the world is focused on building the Gigabit Society at light speed over fibre.”

[1] Electronic Communications Code of 14.09.16 (see page 78 of Impact Assessment part 1)

[2] “Comparative analysis of outcomes in the UK broadband market: coverage, connections and competition” See Figure 1.2 Click here

Notes to editors:

  • Nearly every UK broadband provider and all the main mobile operators depend on the national network, managed by Openreach, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT, which is paid billions to maintain UK’s national network infrastructure.
  • Point Topic uses advanced modelling techniques to forecast future broadband coverage using both FTTP and G.Fast at a national and regional level as well as by constituency. Its analysis found that despite 10 million premises being promised G.Fast (termed ‘ultrafast’ by BT) by 2020, UK ultrafast coverage will increase by less than 5%. Overwhelmingly, those who already have access to ultrafast cable broadband will only get one more provider.  Those who don’t will get nothing.
  • The table below breaks down predicted FTTP and G.Fast coverage by nation and region:
Nations and RegionsUK Households in FTTP footprint (coverage in 2020)UK Households in G.Fast Footprint (coverage in 2020)UK Households in G.Fast Footprint incremental to cable (coverage in 2020)
North East2.8%33.7%5.02%
East of England4.2%26.4%2.76%
South East4.3%24.6%2.35%
East Midlands5.0%30.7%1.59%
North West5.1%39.7%5.63%
West Midlands5.3%42.8%2.27%
Northern Ireland5.7%27.2%5.18%
Yorkshire and The Humber7.7%29.0%4.07%
South West8.9%17.3%1.87%

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Having made the UK’s first mobile phone call and sent the first text message, Vodafone has a history as a tech pioneer. In 2018 we made the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G, and were first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. We now have 5G in more places than anyone else, with multiple locations now live across the UK and the rest of Europe.

Today we serve more than 18 million mobile and fixed line customers in the UK, with 4G network coverage at 99%.  Our customers voted us the UK’s Best Mobile Network at the 2018 Trusted Reviews Awards – for the second year in a row. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

Connectivity is at the heart of what we do as it gives us a huge opportunity for good. We are using our network, products, talents and technology to help society prosper and respond to significant social and environmental issues.  Our free Digital Parenting magazine is helping families and schools across the UK to navigate the online world safely. Meanwhile, the Vodafone Foundation’s work with researchers at Imperial College is developing personalised cancer treatment using the processing power of smartphones.

We are part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest technology communications companies, with mobile operations in 26 countries, partnerships with mobile networks in 55 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets.  As of 30 September 2019, Vodafone Group had approximately 625 million mobile customers, 27 million fixed broadband customers, and 22 million TV customers – including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates.

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