MSPs examine Openreach plans for full fibre broadband

Cross-party politicians who oversee Scotland’s rural connectivity have been examining future plans for digital engineering at Openreach’s £485,000 Scottish training school.

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee joined trainees in the classroom yesterday (Monday) to see how the latest, full fibre networks are built directly to people’s houses and business premises.

The revamped centre – unveiled in March – provides hands-on training for thousands of engineers who’ll build the next generation of broadband* for communities across Scotland. It includes a replica suburban street complete with cabinets, poles and cables to recreate the live network in the real world.

Committee Convener Edward Mountain MSP said: “Scotland’s at the start of a digital journey from old copper cables to a full fibre future. The links between fast, reliable connectivity, productivity and economic growth are well understood. Rural communities must not be left behind.

“Having the right engineering skills here in Scotland will be vital, so it’s good to see training being prioritised by Openreach. It’s useful to get an understanding of the technicalities involved in fibre build and the challenges faced in the field.”

Visit host Brendan Dick, chair of the Openreach board in Scotland, said: “Our firm belief is that full fibre is the only technology that will provide all the capabilities Scotland needs for the future. It will support other technologies such as 5G.

“We’re ramping up our commercial plans for full fibre and working flat out on bringing down the costs to make full fibre more viable for rural areas. Early builds in remote communities like Altnaharra and Glenmazeran have helped us to hone our skills.

“I welcome the committee’s interest and the chance to show how we’re investing in training, people and network to keep the people of Scotland well connected.”

Openreach trainees receive comprehensive training at the school – from how to pick up their next job and set up their working area safely to installing and repairing lines.

According to independent analysis from Think Broadband, more than 97.5 per cent of Scottish homes can already access fibre broadband services, with the vast majority getting speeds of 30Mbps+.

Openreach’s FTTC footprint, at speeds of up to 80Mbps*, currently passes around 2.6 million homes and business premises in Scotland. It’s also starting to roll out FTTP more widely, with plans to reach four million homes and businesses across the UK by March 2021, and, if the conditions are right, to go significantly beyond.


Notes to editors

* FTTP is capable of delivering the fastest residential broadband speeds in the UK – up to 1Gbps – that’s around 24 times the UK average speed of 44Mbps (according to Ofcom) and enough to stream 200 HD Netflix movies simultaneously, based on Netflix internet connection speed requirements. Wholesale speeds are available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers, and attainable over individual lines, may vary.

Trainees joining Openreach this year will work towards a Diploma for IT and Telecommunications Professionals at SCQF Level.

Read more news about Openreach in Scotland

About Openreach

Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.  

We’re more than 35,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world. 

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected. 

We work on behalf of more than 665 communications providers like BT, SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Zen, and our broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 31.8m premises. 

Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £15 billion into our network and, at more than 190 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,798 times. 

Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re making progress towards our full fibre optic network target to reach 25 million premises by December 2026. Research shows a nationwide Full Fibre network could potentially provide a £59bn boost to UK productivity.

To help build the new fibre network and deliver better service across the country – we’ve created and filled more than 9,000 apprenticeship roles in the last two years and we’re recruiting another 1,000 trainee roles in Openreach in 2021. We’re also building greener – we operate the UK’s second largest commercial fleet and want to help lead the transition to electric vehicles, with a target to transition our fleet to being electric in 2030. 

Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed unit of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions. 

For the year ended 31 March 2021, we reported revenue of £5,244m.

For more information, visit www.openreach.co.uk