Hyperoptic, one of the leading alternative full-fibre networks, will fall far short of its target of reaching two million premises by the end of 2021.
Independent modelling by Thinkbroadband revealed that Hyperoptic had linked up just 612,000 premises by July 2021. Even factoring in the limitation of Thinkbroadband’s estimates, Hyperoptic’s target of two million broadband connections by December seems unachievable.
This isn’t the first time Hyperoptic has fallen short of its stated coverage goals.
Hyperoptic was one of the first companies to begin installing full-fibre in the UK, laughing in September 2011 with a focus on large residential and office buildings in London. It has since expanded its scope and has built in parts of 43 cities and towns across the UK.
By 2015, Hyperoptic had passed 100,000 premises and was aiming for half a million by the end of 2019, then on to two million in 2022 and five million in 2025.
However, in October 2019 Hyperoptic conceded that it had reached “almost 400,000” locations. This is despite securing £750 million in additional funding in 2018. But that investment boost prompted Hyperoptic to accelerate its targets: it was now aiming to reach two million homes by the end of 2021 and five million by the end of 2025.
Hyperoptic hasn’t released updates about the rollout since 2019 or revised down its targets. But its progress—limited to under a third of the premises it had targeted by 2021—does cast doubts over the capacity of independent networks to deliver full-fibre builds.
The sector has attracted £8 billion from investors on the basis of its goal of competing with BT’s Openreach and Virgin Media to provide the broadband infrastructure of the future.
On the back of this funding, alt nets, including Hyperoptic, Cityfibre and Gigaclear, aspire to cover 29.9 million premises by the end of 2025, according to the Independent Network Co-operative Association (INCA). That would put them ahead of Openreach, which has targeted 25 million premises by the end of 2026, and Virgin Media, which is aiming to run full-fibre to 14 million premises by the end of 2028.
But as Hyperoptic’s rollout has shown, sometimes these aspirations don’t materialise on—or rather in—the ground.
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