Openreach Hits Quarter Mark, On Way To 25 Million Full Fibre Build

Openreach has crossed a significant milestone in its full fibre build programme, by reaching more than a quarter on the way to 25 million homes by December 2026.

It was back in May 2021, when Openreach announced it would increase and expand its build out of Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), despite being in the middle of Coronavirus lockdowns.

Prior to that in March 2021 the UK regulator Ofcom had agreed the pricing and other conditions needed for BT to commit £12 billion of its own money for the rollout of FTTP to 20 million homes or businesses by the mid- to late-2020s.

Network commitments

BT then confirmed it will “get on and build like fury” to deliver fibre to the premise (FTTP) to 20 million premises.

Soon after that BT said it would increase its full fibre (FTTP) build by 5 million premises, with the new target of 25 million premises to be reached by December 2026.

Openreach also pledged later in May 2021 that it would deliver full fibre broadband to another three million homes and businesses in some of the hardest to reach parts of the UK.

The previous target for rural full fibre was 3.2 million homes by December 2026. Openreach said it planned to reach 6.2 million homes and premises in rural locations in the same timeframe.

Openreach seemed to have expanded its rollout plan as it gained valuable experience and equipment (such as its Cleanfast machine) in full fibre deployments, which speeded up the process.

This, coupled with greater regulatory and economy certainty, has given BT the needed reassurance to commit £12 billion of its own money for the rollout of FTTP.

The government of course has an ambitious target of making 1Gbps capable broadband available to at least 85 percent of country by 2025.

FTTP milestone

Fast forward a year and Openreach has confirmed that FTTP (fibre to the premise or full fibre) now reaches more than seven million homes, including more than two million in the hardest to reach ‘final third’ of the country.

And the carrier also added 36 more rural and urban locations added to its build plan – covering 500,000 more premises.

“Having already built the new technology to more than a quarter of its target footprint, Openreach is on track to reach 25 million premises by December 2026 and it’s passing more than 50k new homes and businesses every week,” said the carrier. “To put that in perspective – engineers are installing around 800 metres of cable every minute.”

Openreach also signalled it stop selling legacy analogue phone services and will give notice on a further 46 exchanges covering more than 380,000 premises where it is building Full Fibre, to encourage the adoption of new digital services.

Openreach is giving Communication Providers (CPs) 12 months notification that it’ll no longer be selling copper-based products/services in these exchanges. This brings the total number of locations – now notified for ‘stop sell’ to c.600 exchanges – covering around five million premises.

“Over a whopping seven million homes can now connect to our Full Fibre network which is a fantastic achievement,” said Clive Selley, Openreach CEO. “We’ve come a long way – it took eight years for us to pass our first million premises, but only four months to pass our latest million.”

“We believe that full fibre is the future for the UK and that’s why we want to deliver full fibre broadband to 25 million UK homes and businesses by December 2026,” said Selley. “The shift from copper to fibre will be every bit as significant as the move from analogue to digital and black and white tv to colour. By eventually retiring analogue phone lines, we will be creating a simplified network which allows us to meet the enhanced needs of an increasingly digital society.”

The full list of FTTP locations and timescales being updated regularly on the Openreach website, or people can visit the Openreach fibre checker.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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