Openreach accelerates full fibre build to ‘harder to reach’ market towns, villages & rural areas
250,000 homes and businesses in more than 200 villages, market towns and rural areas set to benefit
Openreach today outlined plans to make ultrafast, ultra-reliable and future-proof broadband available in 227 market towns and villages across the UK, with building to commence within the next 14 months.
The portion of this build plan completed by March 2021 is within Openreach’s previously stated target to reach four million homes and businesses with ‘full fibre’ technology March 2021.
These new locations such as Aberdare, in South Wales, and Saxmundham, in Suffolk, are part of the company’s ambition to extend its new ‘full’ fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network outside cities.
The plans build on successful cost busting village trials launched at the tail end of last year - which have seen engineers developing a range of new tools, skills and techniques to help Openreach extend its full fibre network into areas previously considered too complex or expensive to upgrade.
There are also clear economic benefits to building full fibre in rural areas. In a report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) – “Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth” - commissioned by Openreach in 2019, revealed that with a future-proof and reliable fibre connection to every property by 2025:
· Half a million people could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity
· At least 400,000 more people could work from home, allowing them to live and work where they choose
· 270,000 people could be freed to move out of cities in rural areas – helping stimulate regional and rural economic growth
· 300 million commuting trips could be saved each year, with three billion fewer kilometres travelled by car.
Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, said: “Our full fibre build programme is going great guns - having passed over 2 million premises already on the way to our 4m target by March 2021. We’re now building at around 26,000 premises a week in over 100 locations – reaching a new home or business every 23 seconds That’s up from 13,000 premises a week this time last year.
“Openreach has always been committed to doing our bit in rural Britain - delivering network upgrades in communities that are harder to reach and less densely populated. We intend to build a significant portion of our full-fibre network in these harder to reach areas of the UK and are announcing 227 locations today.
“Our ambition is to reach 15 million premises by mid-2020s if right investment conditions are in place. Currently, the biggest missing piece of this puzzle is getting an exemption from business rates on building fibre cables which is critical for any fibre builder’s long-term investment case.”
Full fibre technology is already offering plenty of benefits to rural businesses and homes, including award-winning ice cream making business Callestick Farm, in Cornwall, where it has created new markets and business opportunities for the family firm, including helping to establish and grow a new customer base in China.
Callestick Farm’s Operations director, Ben Parker said: “Marketing is at the heart of our business and now we can really make the most of the internet to reach out to customers. The key benefit is that we will now be able to use the cloud and cloud-based applications within our business operations. This should help us build still closer relationships with customers and will also remove the need for travel to some meetings, so this will bring cost and time savings as well.
"Everyday emailing, internet banking and online research is also so much faster and this all adds up, saving us time and increasing productivity."
Openreach recently reached over two million homes and businesses with full fibre technology and a quarter of its existing footprint already falls within rural areas. Also, more than 120,000 homes and businesses across the UK have signed up to Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) scheme. The programme enables the company to work with a local community to build a customised co-funded solution and bring fibre broadband to areas not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.
To view the full list of market towns and villages included in this phase of build, please visit our website
To view an accompanying blog from Openreach's Kim Mears, MD Strategic Infrastructure Development, please visit - https://opnr.ch/ruralpr
For further information
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 These are distinct from the Fibre Cities Programme (encompassing cities, towns & boroughs) forward looking view of our build plans here and total excludes the 13 pilot rural locations previously announced in October 2019. See release here .
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