Where are we building?
At Openreach, we’ve met our commitment to make Full Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband available to 4.5 million homes and businesses by the end of March 2021. And we have recently announced an ambition to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid to late 2020s, if the right investment conditions are in place.
In doing that, we’re determined to be as open and transparent about our build programmes as we can be. That's why we publish a range of details about our largest commercial programmes on our public website. This includes the FTTP Fibre First Towns, Cities and Boroughs Build Programme, and the Market Towns and Villages Programme which covers locations within the most difficult to reach areas (Area 3, as defined by Ofcom).
In addition to these, our Fibre First Programme contains other smaller sub-programmes, for example BDUK, new sites, other demand-driven programs and smaller-scale infill which – due to their nature and scale – are not included in our publication.
Our aim is to support the Government’s strategy, as set out in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, to accelerate commercial full fibre network investment across the UK as well as giving our stakeholders (like council leaders, planners, MPs, our CP customers and the general public) a view of where and when we intend to build.
This provides stakeholders with valuable information to make informed decisions on their FTTP investments and sales effort helping to encourage people to take up a full fibre service when it arrives.
The lists of locations and exchanges are reviewed and agreed in advance of publication by our Fibre First Steering Group, to make sure all the published data is accurate and reflects our build plans at the time of publication.
We don’t intend to change plans or the list of exchanges, but building a new broadband network across the UK is a huge and complex engineering programme, so some changes may occur where we encounter unforeseen obstacles. For example, the start of any building work will be subject to us getting the right level of support from relevant local authorities, and our own operational capability and efficiency. This includes having access to multi-dwelling units, like apartment blocks. When it comes to the actual build, we might discover conditions on the ground which restrict the proportion of an exchange area that we can upgrade.
You can see the locations and exchanges for the Full Fibre Build plans mentioned above here.
You can read more about our specific approach to publishing build plans below.
Fibre First Towns, Cities and Boroughs Build Programme
In 2018 we committed to DCMS that we would publish a 12 months forward-looking view of locations and the total number of exchanges we were planning to build within these locations in the next 24 months (up to March 2021). We also committed to publish details of the specific exchanges where we are currently building FTTP, where it’s already been built, or where we were intending to start building within the next three months.
We committed to:
- update the list and maps on our website every three months, as appropriate
- add details of specific exchanges in which we intend to start building within three months.
The increased experience on the ground has given us ever greater confidence in the ability, level and accuracy to plan longer term – which is why in late 2019 we were in the position to publish details on our build plans right up to the target (at that time) delivery date of four million premises by March 2021.
Following our announcement of our ambition to cover 20m premises by the mid to late 20's - we're now in a position to publish details of new build tranches on a rolling basis. These build tranches each cover our plans over approximately two years.
Our approach to publishing our FTTP build plans still includes loading on our website:
- A list of towns and cities where we're already building FTTP as part of our towns and cities build programme, or where we intend to start building as part of our next build tranches (over approximately two years). For London and larger cities we also specify the boroughs.
- The total number of exchanges – within the announced locations – where we intend to build scale FTTP as part of our next build tranche (over approximately two years), plus a list of previously announced locations.
- The specific exchanges where we're currently building, where we've already built*, and where we intend to start building within the next three months. Details at an exchange level are shown only where Openreach expects that it will build in the greater majority of the relevant exchange.
We update all of this information as appropriate every three months and you can view it here.
Considering the published plans at exchange level, our intention is always to upgrade the greater majority of the exchange and we'll flag when any information for a location has changed. In the event that a town, borough or city is removed from the list, we'll always explain the reasons behind that decision.
Market Towns and Villages Build Programme
We've also applied the Fibre First approach shown above to publishing the build plans for our Market Towns and Villages Programme. Originally it covered up to March 2021 and then we also included the first phase of network build in market towns and villages up to March 2024 as part of our 3.2m Area 3 commitment.
This follows a consultation with the industry regulator Ofcom in July 2020, when it was proposed that such a build commitment from Openreach was sufficient for them to extend the fibre enablers previously set out in their 2020 Wholesale Fixed Telecom Market Review consultation for Area 2, to Area 3.
This will contribute to the right investment conditions for Area 3 being in place. The data will provide further certainty to local authorities, investors and customers - and supports the Government’s strategy to accelerate commercial investments in Full Fibre networks throughout the UK.
Our approach to publishing our FTTP build plans for market towns and villages includes publishing on our website a list of:
- Exchanges where we're currently building, where we've already built and where we intend to start building within the next three months.
- Market towns and villages which are covered within the above mentioned exchanges over the next 3 years (up to March 2024), as part of our 3.2m Area 3 commitment.
Openreach will keep this information updated on a rolling basis, including to reflect additional locations in later phases of network build or changes to existing plans which may become necessary due to unforeseen operational reasons (particularly where build is yet to commence).
In the event that a location is removed from the list, we will always explain the reasons behind that decision.