The UK's altnets increased their full fibre coverage by 50% in 2019, up from 23% growth in 2018, to pass 1.2 million premises, according to a report put together for the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) by Point Topic.
The study also shows strong continued investment with financial related announcements up by £936m and rural fixed wireless connections remain stable.
INCA calculates that a commitment of £6.6bn has been announced for the independent operators.
"There has been a significant push by the Government in recent years to provide full fibre for all, and this is reflected in the industry as it aims to reach 2.4 million premises with full fibre at the end of 2020 and 15.7 million premises by end-2025," said Malcolm Corbett, CEO at INCA.
"Being able to achieve this is dependent on a number of factors including delivery times for services from Openreach or other operators, and getting wayleaves.
"Coronavirus has demonstrated clearly the reliance we all have on connectivity. We look forward to seeing Government continuing to prioritise renewal of the UK’s digital infrastructure, both fixed-line and wireless.”
The report notes that many of the operators’ concerns are being addressed. Planning and street work delays and/or costs, which was last year’s top issue has moved down the list, suggesting that work done by Government and local authorities is starting to pay-off.
In its assessment of 2019, the report gathered evidence suggesting that the UK’s independent network operators passed 1.2 million homes with fixed superfast or ultrafast broadband. The majority of these use ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises or home (FTTP/H) and Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) technology. Fixed wireless networks can address up to 2.3m premises, though this is more challenging to assess accurately. The research shows that connections to WISPs remain stable at around 110,000
Independent full fibre providers now have 366,000 live connections, up 23% since last year.
“The independent network operator sector has seen some fantastic growth from last year,” said Annelise Berendt, Principal Associate at Point Topic. “It is clear from the report that independent operators are playing a significant role in helping the UK Government reach their full-fibre targets.”