Bristol’s booming broadband build - Openreach announces fibre milestone

Since work started 12 months ago, Openreach engineers have reached around 80,000 premises

Openreach has today announced that more than 80,000 homes and businesses across Bristol – nearly 40 per cent of all premises - can now access some of the fastest, most reliable broadband in the UK.

Engineering teams have been hard at work building the new network using the latest Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology - where fibre optic cables are laid all the way from the local telephone exchange to people’s front doors.

Full fibre provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity; fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and capacity to easily meet the ever growing data demands of future technology.

Bristol was announced in July 2018 as one of the first places to benefit from Openreach’s full fibre build. Since then, the new network has been built in Bedminster, Bishopsworth, North Bristol, West Bristol, Easton, Filton and Whitchurch. In the coming months, work will reach Fishponds and Redcliffe as engineers install the cables and infrastructure required to connect up those areas.

The build is part of Openreach’s plans to make FTTP technology available to four million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of March 2021. The business wants to reach 15 million and ultimately the majority of the UK if the conditions are right to invest.

James Tappenden, Director of Openreach’s Fibre First programme, said, “Recent research shows that connecting everyone in Bristol and in the South West to ‘full fibre’ broadband would create a £4.3 billion boost to the region’s economy, by unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next-generation of home-grown businesses.

“Our new network will also help to support Bristol’s Smart City Strategy and its pillar of achieving ‘world class connectivity’, as well as underpinning the council’s One City Vision of Connectivity – which includes the aim of removing the obstacles and barriers to people connecting.”[1]

“As a Bristolian, I’m proud to see the progress we’re making in fibering up the city, with already close to half of all homes and businesses able to enjoy the benefits of our future-proofed next generation broadband network. But we’re not done yet and our engineers are busy extending the new network even further.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said, “Our One City vision sees Bristol becoming the most digitally connected city in the country and being at the forefront of the full fibre rollout by Openreach is a key element of that ambition, as well as supporting the development of a sustainable and inclusive local economy.”

“Digital connectivity delivers access for Bristol’s citizens to jobs and opportunities, city services and each other. This city is known for driving innovation, being home to a thriving digital economy and as a place where businesses can grow and compete across the country and beyond and full fibre connectivity will only help to boost that further.”

Ten fantastic full fibre facts:

1. Connecting everyone in the South West to ‘full fibre’ broadband by 2025 would create a £4.3 billion boost to the region’s economy.

2. Fibre optics are strands of glass around one tenth the thickness of a human hair. They transmit data using light signals.

3. A single strand of fibre can provide enough capacity to serve up to 32 individual properties with Gigabit speeds

4. Pure fibre optic broadband can run at speeds of 1 gigabit per second (1000Mbps) – that’s 18 times faster than today’s UK average broadband speed. You can download a two-hour HD film in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea. And video gamers could download a 5-gigabyte virtual reality (VR) game in 1.7 minutes, instead of waiting half an hour.

5. Full fibre is more reliable than traditional copper connections. A full fibre broadband signal isn’t affected by external interference whereas copper can be impacted by outside electrical signals – including electric fences and even bad weather!

6. A fibre optic cable can send a signal over 120 miles without any real loss of quality. Traditional copper cables can lose signal at around one mile.

7. A family of four can all stream ultra HD or 4k quality video simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.

8. Full fibre is better for the environment – the amount of electricity used to power fibre is significantly less than needed for copper cables. Better connectivity also enables more people to work from home – which cuts down on commuting. Research suggests fibering up the whole of the UK could save 300 million commuting trips – reducing carbon emissions by 360,000 tonnes.

9. Full fibre can boost business productivity. It enables cheaper broadband powered phone services, and better access to cloud-based computing services. For example, full fibre connectivity combined with cloud computing means businesses can upload, store, access and download vast amounts of data in minutes instead of hours. Data is backed up and securely archived off-site so not relying on costly, ageing servers taking up expensive office space.

10. Full fibre broadband will be crucial in supporting plans to give NHS patients access to ‘virtual clinics’ where patients who don’t physically need to come hospital can get a video consultation with their doctor. It can also allow hospitals to share HD quality graphics of medical scans in seconds to improve diagnosis speeds. For example, medical staff can download a 2 gigabyte CT scan in 40 seconds, instead of 14 minutes.

People interested in upgrading their broadband can see what’s available in their area by entering their postcode into Openreach’s online fibre checker. If your area is shown as ‘accepting orders’ you can order fibre broadband. You’ll need to contact a broadband provider offering a full fibre service on our network to do it.

This short video explains what full fibre technology is and you can find out more about our Fibre First programme here.  A film about our Bristol fibre first programme is here.

[1] https://www.connectingbristol.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Connecting_Bristol_300819_WEB-1.pdf