65% for Bristol 650
Openreach’s new digital network in Bristol hits build milestone
It’s been announced today that 65% of Bristol, more than 145,000 homes and businesses, can now order some of the fastest, most reliable broadband in Europe thanks to a multi-million commercial investment by Openreach, the UK’s largest wholesale broadband network.
The Company, which has been upgrading Bristol’s telecommunications network from copper to fibreoptics for the past couple of years - has reached the 65% build milestone in the same year that the city is celebrating 650 years since it was granted important rights and privileges by Royal Charter. It’s also 65 years since the late HM The Queen famously made the first subscriber trunk dialled telephone call from the Bristol telephone exchange to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, more than 300 miles away.
Openreach has spent more than £43 million so far to build the new ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre network in the exchange areas of Bedminster, Bishopsworth, Bristol South, Bristol North, Bristol West, Easton, Eastville, Whitchurch and Westbury-on-Trym. Build is ongoing in Redcliffe, Avonmouth and Stoke Bishop and it’s also investing in exchanges just outside of Bristol like Almondsbury, Chipping Sodbury, Clevedon, Keynsham, Long Ashton, Portishead, Wrington and Yatton.
The new technology is up to ten times faster than the average UK broadband connection and around five times more reliable than the old copper-based network it’s replacing – and demand for the new infrastructure is high, with around 30 per cent of people adopting the service where it’s available, just behind the UK average of 33 per cent.
A Scout Hut in St Andrews has been making the most of the new technology for the past year or so. It enables more than 320 scouts of all ages from the 63rd Bristol Scout Group to stream and access training videos, demonstration videos and to access content online. The hut is also used by other community groups for yoga and fitness classes, after school and holiday clubs, birthday parties and fundraising events, all of which are now able to make the most of the new connectivity. Engineer Mike Weaver, who’s worked at the Company for more than three decades and helped build the new network, visited the Scout Hut recently to see what a difference better connectivity is making.
Matt Lloyd, Scout Leader 63rd Bristol Scouts said, “Before we had Full Fibre, we wouldn’t even bother trying to show videos, it was just too slow. It’s been a useful transformation which helps us to enhance the activities we provide. When we had a visit from the local community police officers to talk about the dangers of substance misuse, they were able to instantly stream videos which made the session more accessible to our young people. Being able to connect to the internet quickly and reliably helps to keep what we’re teaching relevant.”
“Having Full Fibre brings the whole thing to life and makes our job as Scout leaders easier. We can now even do the register online to save time!"
Martin Williams, Openreach’s Partnership Director for the South West, said, “We have a proud history in Bristol and our investment across Bristol and the surrounding areas continues at pace. We’re determined to deliver a great service which helps this community thrive and supports people to work from home easily, keep in touch with their loved ones and build connections and inclusivity.
“Research shows that this new network will give businesses an edge and provide families and home-workers with future-proof connectivity, no matter what life throws at us next.
“Gigabit-capable broadband can have a huge impact on people’s lives and it’s great for the economy but upgrades aren’t automatic. People need to place an order with their chosen providers to get connected and we’ll do the rest. Our network offers the widest choice of providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen - which means people have lots of choice and can get a great deal.
“Even if you already have a decent enough service, it’s worth checking if you can upgrade, because Full Fibre is the future, and it provides the best broadband experience at great value for money. There’ll be no more worrying that your video call might freeze, or your files are failing to upload when everyone’s at home competing for bandwidth at the same time.”
Victoria Matthews, Bristol Director for Business West, said, “It’s fantastic to see Openreach investing in our Bristol region and reaching this milestone. At a time when the digital divide is widening, and our businesses need enhanced connectivity, Openreach’s commitment to supporting the existing and next generation of our workforce will unlock opportunities to support and sustain regional economic growth.”
A report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) shows that connecting everyone in the South West to Full Fibre broadband would create a £4.3 billion boost to the local economy, by unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next-generation of home-grown businesses. The report also revealed that 42,000 people in the region could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity – including in small businesses and through entrepreneurship.
It’s part of the company’s plans to reach 25 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2026. This short video explains what Full Fibre technology is and you can find out more about Openreach Fibre First build programme here.
 Investment figure based on an average build cost of £300 per premises