Openreach Announces New FTTP Locations

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Acceleration of fibre to the premise (FTTP) program at Openreach, with the addition of 36 new locations

Openreach has announced that it has added 36 new locations where it will be building its ‘future-proof’ Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology over the next 12 months.

The recipients of FTTP will be in locations such as Newcastle, Doncaster, Chelmsford and St Albans, as well as four new locations in Scotland (thanks in part to rates relief from the Scottish government).

The new FTTP locations comes after Boris Johnson in June had called for a fibre rollout to ‘every home in the land’ in five years’ time (2025) – a decade earlier than current estimates

FTTP rollout

The government has in the past set a goal of 2033 for the rollout of fibre to all premises, a target Johnson, who was then the front-running the Conservative Party leadership candidate, called “laughably unambitious”.

But now Johnson is Prime Minister.

Yet even BT’s Openreach subsidiary has previously said it is unclear how Johnson’s demand could be accomplished within five years.

Indeed, it is thought that there are 27 million homes in the UK still connected to Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), which makes use of copper connections from the green street cabinet to the home.

“Building full fibre technology to the whole of the UK isn’t quick or easy,” the group previously said in a statement. “It requires £30bn and a physical build to more than 30 million front doors, from suburban terraces to remote crofts.

“We’re determined to lead the way and there’s a lot that government could be doing now to help us go further and faster,” it added.

Openreach said it has already reached more than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the UK since February last year and this is part of its ambition to deploy full fibre to 4 million premises by March 2021.

Openreach is already deploying FTTP in 74 locations, including large cities such as Birmingham, Belfast, London, and Manchester.

It says on average it makes FTTP available to more than 20,000 new homes and businesses every week across the UK. Currently, more than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the UK have access to FTTP connecitivty.

Openreach provided the following video to explain the technology.

Government support

Openreach said that since its Fibre First build programme was launched in February 2018, its engineers have deployed around 2.6 million kilometres of fibre – enough to travel to the moon and back three times.

The operator also said it has invested heavily in its staff to help with the acceleration of the build, having made 2,600 (90 percent) out of the 3,000 trainee engineer hires it announced in January of this year.

“We’re pressing ahead with our investment and Openreach engineers are now building in communities all over the country, keeping us on track to deliver against the bigger ambitions we set out in May,” said Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach.

Selley made clear that government support was essential if this work is to continue.

“The Government wants to see a nationwide full fibre network and we’re keen to lead the way in helping them achieve that,” said Selley. “We know that if it’s going to happen, Openreach will need to be at the front doing the heavy lifting, so we’re working hard to build a commercially viable plan.”

“One headwind to investment which affects all full fibre builders is business rates, and we’ve been encouraged by the Scottish Government’s move to extend rates relief north of the border,” he noted. “I’m convinced that prioritising investment in faster, more reliable and future proof broadband networks will prove to be a no-regrets decision for future generations.”

In May Ofcom announced new rules to provide greater access to the telegraph poles and underground pipes (ducts) belonging to Openreach.

The idea is make it more attractive to companies to install fibre networks in the UK using existing pathways to local communities, homes, and offices.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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