By Marcus Leach
High-speed broadband is starting to catch on in Britain, with the total number of superfast lines delivering speeds in excess of 25Mbps set to pass the 250,000 mark this April, according to the broadband analysts Point Topic.
This news comes a few weeks after BT Wholesale announced its intent to extend the availability of next generation copper broadband by enabling exchanges serving around 80 per cent of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2011.
Whilst Point Topic’s Chief Analyst Tim Johnson says the number is quite modest — only 1% of homes in Britain — it means that superfast broadband could be in a position to follow in the footsteps of first-generation broadband 10 years ago.
“We went on from there to reach over 13 million broadband lines within five years,” Johnson said. “Now we have over 19 million. It’s dangerous just to assume that history will repeat itself, but it’s still a good pointer to what will happen to superfast broadband in this decade.”
Point Topic’s estimates for the current number are based on its detailed figures for the end of 2010. These show there were 175,000 superfast broadband lines in use by then. The majority were for the 118,000 Virgin Media customers signed up to the 50 megabits per second (50Mbps) cable broadband service. The remaining 57,000 or so were getting superfast broadband over telecom infrastructure owned by BT and alternative network operators (altnets).
Projecting these figures forward and allowing for some increase in growth suggests there were about 236,000 superfast lines by the end of March.
“At that rate we should pass the quarter-million milestone sometime between now and the end of April,” said Johnson.