Openreach Unveils Plans For Full Fibre In Final Third

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Plans to roll out next generation fibre connections in the hardest to reach areas in the United Kingdom revealed by Openreach

Openreach has announced it will deploy fibre to the premise (FTTP or full fibre) to more than more than three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s hardest to reach regions.

In January this year before the Coronavirus pandemic really began to hit hard, Openreach had announced it was ‘accelerating’ its full fibre build to ‘harder to reach’ market towns, villages & rural areas.

The firm said at the time that 250,000 homes and businesses in more than 200 villages, market towns and rural areas would benefit from the fibre to the premise (FTTP) deployment.

FTTP deployment

That came after British communications regulator Ofcom had proposed a major shakeup of the UK telecoms sector in order to help increase investment in full fibre deployments.

That proposed change included retiring the existing copper network in the UK, providing financial aid for Openreach to extend its fibre networks in rural locations, as well as changes to Openreach wholesale charges to encourage competition from new network providers and to protect customers.

And now the Openreach plan to deliver FTTP to 3.2 million UK premises forms part of a massive £12 billion investment.

It comes after Ofcom published a new consultation, and the regulator has estimated that there are 9.6 million homes and businesses situated in this final third of the country – so called Area 3 – rural locations where BT is the only service provider.

Essentially Openreach’s ambition is deliver FTTP to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s.

But Openreach warned that the right regulatory and political fibre enablers are in place.

Indeed Openreach told the BBC that the government’s broadband manifesto promise is at risk, if money for rural areas is not allocated soon.

Ofcom said it intends to publish its final decision relating to the Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review by the end of March 2021.

Rural locations

Openreach meanwhile published an extended list of 251 locations in the final third where it will build the new network over the next three years.

Great new for those rural locations that have struggled to gain decent connectivity.

Locations on the list include Thurso in the far north of Scotland, Aberystwyth on Cardigan Bay in Wales and Lingfield in Surrey.

The full list can be found here.

It hopes that by publishing the list, it will provide “greater certainty to local authorities, investors and customers – and supports the Government’s strategy to accelerate commercial investments in Full Fibre networks throughout the UK.”

Aiding economy recovery

“This year we’ve all seen the importance of having a decent broadband connection and at Openreach, we’re convinced that Full Fibre technology can underpin the UK’s economic recovery,” said Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach.

““Right now, we’re building a new, ultra-reliable full-fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come,” said Selley. “It’s Ofcom’s proposals that give us the right conditions to build commercially in hardest to reach areas.”

“We’re determined to find inventive engineering solutions and effective partnership funding models to reduce costs and enable us to connect as many communities as possible across the UK without public subsidy,” he added.

“Openreach is leading the charge to help Government achieve its target of making gigabit capable networks available nationwide by 2025,” Selley concluded. “And we hope that by publishing our own plans, we can help ensure that taxpayers only fund connections in communities that really need public support.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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