High Peak MP Gets to Grips With Openreach’s Rural Broadband Build

Engineers are now targeting many of the “hard to reach” market towns and villages

High Peak MP Robert Largan has visited Openreach engineers who’re installing ultrafast broadband in some of the most rural and hard-to-reach parts of Derbyshire.

The MP spent time in New Mills to witness first-hand the innovative engineering techniques being used to deliver the next generation of full fibre broadband directly to homes and businesses.

He was given a socially-distanced tour of Openreach’s broadband network – used by the likes of BT, Sky, Plusnet and TalkTalk - by fibre engineer Dee Chlebovskaja.

Just last month, Openreach announced plans to extend its full fibre build to homes and businesses in 11 market towns and villages across Derbyshire.

Future-proof full fibre broadband is capable of carrying speeds up to 1Gbps* - around 15 times faster than the UK’s current average - bringing more reliable, ultrafast broadband services to communities. Also known as Fibre-to-the-Premises or FTTP, the technology offers future-proof connectivity; fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and greater capacity to easily meet ever-growing data demands in the future.

Robert Largan, MP for High Peak, said: “It was good to join Openreach engineers to learn more about the challenges they face installing ultrafast broadband in hard to reach, rural areas.

The extension of full fibre broadband to large parts of the High Peak is very positive news. I am determined to do what I can to ensure all High Peak residents have access to fast, reliable broadband, no matter where they live.”

The visit was hosted by Kasam Hussain, regional partnership director for Openreach in the Midlands, who said: “We welcomed the opportunity to give Robert Largan MP a step-by-step demonstration of our technology. Our engineers work hard every day to keep communities across Derbyshire and the wider region connected and it was great to be able to share the challenges and realities of delivering this new technology.

“We understand the importance of effective, reliable broadband services and, while there is still more work to be getting on with, we’ve made good progress in delivering a high level of coverage to local businesses and households alike.”

According to independent website Think Broadband, more than 95 per cent of residents within High Peak constituency already have access to superfast fibre coverage at speeds of 24Mbps and more. Local homes and businesses can check what services are available on the Openreach fibre checker.

Openreach recently expanded its national plans and will now make full fibre broadband available to 4.5 million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of March 2021 – an increase of more than 500,000 premises. And by the mid-to-late 2020s we want to reach 20 million premises – almost two thirds of the UK – assuming the right conditions to invest are in place.

Rural trials during 2019 helped Openreach engineers get to grips with new equipment, for example a specialised trench digging tool called a diamond cutter, that enables them to work faster and with far less disruption.

It’s a giant rotating circular blade with diamonds embedded in the metal coating on its edge – enabling it to slice through pavements and roads leaving a really neat channel into which the machine simultaneously feeds in tubing for fibre-optic cables.

The specialist kit is capable of installing 700 metres of cabling a day – more than 20 times that by a standard two-person team using traditional methods of drilling and excavation, slashing the time taken to deploy fibre by months.

More than 1,600 Openreach people live and work across the East Midlands.