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

New study reveals comprehensive rollout could support more than 132,000 new workers

Openreach’s Regional Partnership Director for the South East, Kieran Wines, 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 South East could enable 132,000 new people to enter the region’s workforce.

The report, commissioned by Openreach, also reveals that a nationwide rollout would also allow more than 41,000 people in the South 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 £3.4 billion in gross value added to the South East economy.

Kieran Wines commented: “This report illustrates just how game-changing the roll out of Full Fibre broadband across the South 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 South 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 - £8.7 billion of this in the South East. And this updated report highlights how Full Fibre can help to level up the UK, bringing up to more than 132,000 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 95 towns and cities in the region, including 74 locations 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 341 new roles in the South 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 4,800 live and/or work in the South East.

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

The full report is available here.

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Employment and GVA impacts by region, plus the projected number of working-age carers, parents and the over-65s increasing their hours, are given in the above table. GVA per hour is based on ONS figures extrapolated according to Cebr productivity growth forecasts. All impacts are based on ONS population forecasts for 2025. These estimates assume there are no geographical limitations to take-up of flexible and remote working opportunities.