Openreach Announces Full Fibre To 227 Rural Communities

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200 villages, market towns and rural areas set to benefit as Openreach pledges to roll out ultrafast fibre to the premise (FTTP)

Openreach has announced that it is ‘accelerating’ its full fibre build to ‘harder to reach’ market towns, villages & rural areas.

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

Earlier this month British communications regulator Ofcom proposed a major shakeup of the UK telecoms sector in order to help increase investment in full fibre deployments.

BT Fibre In Ducting

Rural FTTP

The proposed changes include 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 Openreach said that within the next 14 months, it will deliver FTTP broadband in 227 market towns and villages across the UK, with building to commence within the next 14 months.

A full list of the communities expected to receive this can be found here.

This expansion ties up with Openreach’s previously stated target to reach four million homes and businesses with ‘full fibre’ technology March 2021.

These new locations such as Aberdare, in South Wales, and Saxmundham, in Suffolk, are part of the company’s ambition to extend its new ‘full’ fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network outside cities.

Openreach said this extension has been made possible because of “successful cost busting village trials launched at the tail end of last year – which have seen engineers developing a range of new tools, skills and techniques to help Openreach extend its full fibre network into areas previously considered too complex or expensive to upgrade.”

“Our full fibre build programme is going great guns – having passed over 2 million premises already on the way to our 4m target by March 2021,” said Openreach’s CEO Clive Selley. “We’re now building at around 26,000 premises a week in over 100 locations – reaching a new home or business every 23 seconds That’s up from 13,000 premises a week this time last year.”

“Openreach has always been committed to doing our bit in rural Britain,” said Selley. “We intend to build a significant portion of our full-fibre network in these harder to reach areas of the UK and are announcing 227 locations today.”

“Our ambition is to reach 15 million premises by mid-2020s if right investment conditions are in place,” Selley added. “Currently, the biggest missing piece of this puzzle is getting an exemption from business rates on building fibre cables which is critical for any fibre builder’s long-term investment case.”

Fibre pledges

The government had previously pledged full fibre for the UK by 2033, a target that Prime Minister Boris Johnson last summer called “laughably unambitious”.

He has urged for the technology to be made available to “every home in the land” within five years and pledged a £5bn subsidy to connect the most rural 20 percent of the country to faster fibre lines.

Ahead of last month’s general election, the Labour Party pledged to provide every home and business in the UK with free full fibre broadband, and pledged to nationalise part of BT, which the PM dubbed “a crackpot scheme.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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