UK first as Openreach moves from selling copper to Full Fibre in Salisbury

Salisbury takes step closer to becoming the UK’s first ‘fully digital’ city following multi-million pound investment by Openreach

Since March this year, more than 22,000 homes and businesses in Salisbury have been able to take advantage of Openreach’s revolutionary futureproof Full Fibre broadband network following a multi-million-pound investment in the city by the UK’s biggest digital network builder.

And from today, customers in the city will no longer be able to buy a traditional copper landline or broadband product. Instead, if they want to upgrade, re-grade or switch their broadband or telephone provider using the Openreach network, they’ll only be able to order ultra-reliable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP or Full Fibre) broadband technology, giving them ultrafast download speeds of up to 1Gbps through a great selection of retailers.

Salisbury has been a pilot location for Openreach’s Full Fibre programme of investment in digital infrastructure with the company developing and testing ways to upgrade the UK’s landline network to Full Fibre – where voice calls are carried over the same fibre cables as broadband instead of over copper wires.

James Tappenden, Openreach’s Fibre First Director, said: “Salisbury is now one of the best-connected places in the UK and we want everyone in the city to benefit from our investment.

“Full Fibre is more reliable and faster so can help us do much more online in a more efficient way. Our new network is future-proofed so will be ready for the next wave of bandwidth hungry applications which residents and businesses will demand so will serve Salisbury well for decades to come. We’re leading the way in the UK’s digital upgrade and this is just the beginning.”

James Tappenden, Director of Openreach's Fibre First programme
“Salisbury is now one of the best-connected places in the UK and we want everyone in the city to benefit from our investment.
James Tappenden, Director of Openreach's Fibre First programme

James added: “The traditional landline has served us well for generations, but it can’t go on indefinitely - and by December 2025 it will have reached the end of its life. By September 2023 Openreach will stop selling copper-based products nationally in preparation for withdrawal at the end of 2025.

Earlier this year Salisbury celebrated becoming the first entire city in the UK to gain access to Openreach’s Full Fibre infrastructure. Between March 2019 and March 2020[1], Openreach engineers completed the fastest city-wide network build in the UK - making the new technology available to thousands of homes and businesses.

More than 2,500 homes and businesses in Salisbury have so far upgraded to the new Full Fibre network in the last nine months.

The build in Salisbury forms part of a massive £12 billion investment which will see Openreach’s ambition to build Full Fibre infrastructure to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s – delivering significant economic, social and environmental benefits for rural and urban communities, assuming the right regulatory and political fibre enablers are in place.

More information about Salisbury’s digital upgrade is available here: www.openreach.co.uk/salisbury.

To upgrade to Full Fibre, people can use the Openreach fibre checker to check what infrastructure is available at their home or business and see a list of the broadband providers which offer a service on the new network.

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

[1] Plans to announce the completion in March were postponed due to the pandemic.

Notes to Editors:

  • Openreach is upgrading more than 15 million analogue copper lines and ISDN channels to ‘IP” (Internet Protocol) lines and is migrating end-customers onto these new lines that carry voice calls in the same way broadband connections carry data.
  • Work will be carried out alongside Openreach’s UK-wide broadband upgrade programme to build FTTP to 20 million premises giving consumers access to a range of Openreach products including the revolutionary, ultrafast Full Fibre broadband network where available.
  • The analogue copper network primarily supports landline telephone calls, provides business line services and supports other services that are less obvious, such as burglar alarms, health pendants, telemetry, CCTV, etc. All these services will need to switch to new infrastructure by December 2025.
  • Recent research suggests Full Fibre broadband could bring a range of economic, social and environmental benefits as the city looks to bounce back from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • A report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) – commissioned by Openreach - revealed that connecting everyone in the UK to Full Fibre could create a £59 billion boost to the UK economy. The economic benefit to the South West could be £4.3 billion and 42,000 people in the region could return to work through enhanced connectivity - including in small businesses and through entrepreneurship.
  • A fully fibred UK could also allow thousands more people to work remotely, unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next generation of home-grown businesses.


Fantastic Full Fibre facts:

  • Fibre optics are strands of glass around one tenth the thickness of a human hair.
  • Fibre optics transmit data using light signals.
  • A single strand of fibre can provide enough capacity to serve up to 32 individual properties with gigabit speeds
  • Pure fibre optic broadband can run at speeds of 1 gigabit per second (1000Mbps) – that’s more than 15 times faster than today’s UK average broadband speed. You can download a two-hour HD film in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea. And video gamers could download a 5-gigabyte virtual reality (VR) game in 1.7 minutes, instead of waiting half an hour.
  • More people getting online at the same time is easier too – a family of four can all stream ultra HD or 4k quality video simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.
  • Full Fibre is more reliable than traditional copper connections. A Full Fibre broadband signal isn’t affected by external interference whereas copper can be impacted by outside electrical signals – including electric fences and even bad weather! One recent report stated ‘that ‘Full Fibre’ is 70%-80% more reliable than copper resulting in lower fault rates. A fibre optic cable can send a signal over 120 miles without any real loss of quality. Traditional copper cables can lose signal at around one mile.
  • Full Fibre is better for the environment – the amount of electricity used to power fibre is significantly less than needed for copper cables. Better connectivity also enables more people to work from home – which cuts down on commuting. Research suggests fibering up the whole of the UK by 2025 could save 300 million commuting trips – reducing carbon emissions by 360,000 tonnes.
  • Full Fibre can boost business productivity. For example, Full Fibre connectivity combined with cloud computing means businesses can upload, store, access and download vast amounts of data in minutes instead of hours. Data is backed up and securely archived off-site so not relying on costly, ageing servers taking up expensive office space.
  • Full Fibre broadband will support plans to give NHS patients access to ‘virtual clinics’ where patients who don’t physically need to come hospital can get a video consultation with their doctor. It can also allow hospitals to share HD quality graphics of medical scans in seconds to improve diagnosis speeds. For example, medical staff can download a 2 gigabyte CT scan in 40 seconds, instead of 14 minutes.
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