Cebr report shows Full Fibre broadband build could be a “gamechanger” for the North East economy

Openreach’s Regional Partnership Director for the North, Robert Thorburn, today welcomed the findings of a report conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) which shows that a comprehensive Full Fibre network in the North East could enable nearly 40,000 new people to enter the region’s workforce.

The report, commissioned by Openreach, also reveals that a nationwide rollout would also allow more than 14,000 people in the North East to expand the hours they are able to work if they wanted. And helping carers, parents and over-65s to access employment could contribute just over £1 billon in gross value added to the North East economy.

Robert Thorburn commented: “This report illustrates just how game-changing the roll out of Full Fibre broadband across the North East’s rural and remote communities could be.

“The pandemic has reinforced public recognition of the importance of high-quality broadband and we’re clear that fibre has a significant part to play in the region’s recovery.

“The Cebr findings show accelerating the build would pay huge dividends to the North East economy as a whole and be instrumental in bringing people back into the workforce who haven’t previously had the ability to navigate other commitments or find opportunities in their local area.

Cebr’s previous research explained the economic windfall in store for the UK with a nationwide upgrade – including a £59 billion boost to productivity - £1.7bn of this in the North East. And this updated report highlights how Full Fibre can help to level up the UK, bringing up to nearly 40,000 people back into the workforce in our region. With the challenges our region currently faces, this an opportunity we can’t afford to ignore.”

Openreach is investing millions of pounds on a Full Fibre rollout to more than a dozen locations in the region, including several in the hard-to-reach ‘final third’. In December last year, Openreach announced it was creating 2,500 new roles and an estimated 2,800 roles with partners to support the UK-wide Full Fibre build, including around 50 new roles in the North East. Openreach already employs more than 34,500 people, including more than 25,000 engineers who build, maintain and connect customers to its nationwide broadband network. Of these, more than 1,100 live and/or work in the North East.

This short video explains what Full Fibre technology is and you can find out more about our Fibre First programme here.