Openreach to upgrade hundreds of thousands across the South West to Full Fibre
Upgrades for three million more premises in the toughest third of the UK , supporting UK Government target of making gigabit-capable broadband available to 85% of country by 2025 Includes around 440,000 homes and businesses in the South West
Openreach today outlined plans to build ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre broadband to at least three million more homes and businesses – including 440,000 in the South West - in some of the UK’s hardest to serve communities. It means fewer homes and businesses will require taxpayer subsidies to upgrade.
A total of 181 exchanges across the region are being upgraded, with the majority of homes and businesses in places such as Polperro, Torrington, Charmouth, Winchcombe, South Petherton and Pewsey[ii] set to benefit from what will be a massive nationwide, five-year feat of civil engineering. *Full list of locations below*
The company’s updated build plan will be fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit-capable broadband’ to 85 per cent of UK by 2025 and it follows an extended investment commitment by its parent, BT Group – which means Openreach will now build Full Fibre technology to a total of 25 million premises, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country.
The plans also include an extension to the company’s biggest ever recruitment drive, with a further 1,000 new roles being created in 2021 on top of the 2,500 jobs which were announced in December 2020 – of which around 200 were in the South West. This means that by the end of 2021, Openreach will have created and filled more than 9,000 apprenticeship roles since 2017/18.
Connie Dixon, Openreach’s Regional Director for the South West, said: “Building a new ultrafast broadband network across the South West is a massive challenge and some parts of the region will inevitably require public funding. But our expanded build plan means taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses. And with investments from other network builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.
“This is a hugely complex, nationwide engineering project – second only to HS2 in terms of investment. It will help level-up the UK because the impact of Full Fibre broadband stretches from increased economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to higher employment and environmental benefits. We’re also delighted to continue bucking the national trend by creating more jobs in the region, with apprentices joining in their droves to start their careers as engineers.
“We’ll publish further location details and timescales on our website as the detailed surveys and planning are completed and the build progresses. In the meantime, don’t forget that you can also check what’s already available on our website - tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the South West can already access Full Fibre.”
Openreach is already building Full Fibre faster, at lower cost and higher quality than anyone else in the UK, having made the technology available to more than 4.7 million homes and business so far.
With download speeds of 1 Gbps, it’s up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection. That means faster game downloads, better quality video calls and higher resolution movie streaming.
You can also use multiple devices at once without experiencing slowdown – so more people in your household can get online at once. Even if the rest of your family are making video calls, streaming box sets or gaming online, all at the same time, you won’t experience stuttering, buffering or dropouts.
Full Fibre is also less affected by peak time congestion – so you can enjoy your Saturday night blockbuster in 4K without the dreaded buffering screen. Surf, shop, game, play, click, teach, talk, work, create, learn, buy, sell, watch and do business without skipping a beat or slowing down.
The company’s Chief Engineer unit is using a range of innovations and techniques to deliver world class build costs, whilst a major investment in 11 new regional training centres - including one in Exeter - is helping to equip and skill thousands of new engineers.
Openreach plays an important role across the South West. More than 3,400 of our people live and work here. Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the clear economic benefits of connecting everyone in the South West to Full Fibre. It estimated this would create a £4.3 billion boost to the local economy.
Summary of today’s additional build numbers in the South West:
|Number of premises||Exchanges|
More than 110,000
More than 85,000
More than 45,000
More than 55,000
More than 440,000
List of exchange locations in the South West
|(52 exchanges)||Bude||Mawnan Smith||St Agnes|
|Grampound Road||Penzance||The Lizard|
|Bovey Tracey||Loddiswell||Stoke Gabriel|
|Combe Martin||North Tawton||Torrington|
|Dorset||Bere Regis||Child Okeford||Sturminster Newton|
|(14 exchanges)||Bindon Abbey||Lyme Regis||Swanage|
|(37 exchanges)||Bishops Lydeard||Langport||South Chard|
|Brean Down||Martock||South Petherton|
|Castle Cary||Midsomer Norton||Wellington|
|Chard||Milborne Port||West Monkton|
Full Fibre Facts
- £15bn – total investment in Openreach’s Full Fibre build programme
- 25m – premises Openreach expects to build to by December 2026, of which:
- 4m – premises Openreach will build to each year at its peak
- 2m – premises Openreach built to during FY 20/21 (up from 1m in 19/20).
- 1m – customer connections live already
- Up to 7,000 - new trainee engineering jobs to be created within Openreach and partners in the supply chain as a result of increasing build from 20 to 25m by December 2026
- 9,000 apprenticeship roles created and filled by Openreach since 2017/18
[i] The vast majority of these locations fall within the ‘final third’ or ‘Geographic Area 3’, which is defined by Ofcom as 9.5 million premises in the least commercially viable areas of the UK for competitive broadband infrastructure upgrades.
[ii] Build costs fall within BT Group’s publicly stated range of £300-400 per premises passed, on average and excluding connection costs. All locations upgrades are subject to a detailed survey.