UK’s biggest broadband build reaches six million homes and counting

  • Openreach adds 170 more locations to its Full Fire broadband plan 
  • Engineers now reaching a new home with Full Fibre every 13 seconds 

Openreach today announced that six million homes and businesses can now place an order for its next generation ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre broadband – as part of its build programme to reach 25 million premises all over the UK by December 2026.

Also, as part Openreach’s rolling updates to its build plan, the company has recently outlined plans to build the new gigabit-capable technology to 170 new locations –  covering some 1.5 million homes and businesses across both urban and rural locations including: Bridgend, East Kilbride, Felixstowe, Grantham, Grimsby, Guildford, Inverness, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Lowestoft, Maidstone, Newton Abbot, North Finchley, Oldham, Port Talbot, Romford South, Rugby, Riding Mill, Scunthorpe, Stannington, Simonswood, Trowbridge.

Openreach’s build rate remains on track – with Fibre-to-the-Premises reaching 47k[1] new homes and businesses every week, with engineers laying around 770m of cable per minute – building Full Fibre to a new premise every 13 seconds.

Demand for Full Fibre broadband continues to grow with more than 1.3 million homes and businesses having already ordered a service, and Openreach ending the second quarter with a record high of 24.5k orders in the last week of September.

Twelve of Openreach’s Communication Provider (CP) customers have already signed up to the long term FTTP Equinox deal, which launched at the beginning of October. This will incentivise CPs to order FTTP where available - helping to further drive Full Fibre adoption.

Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) shows that a nationwide Full Fibre network could be the route back to economic, social and environmental prosperity for the UK - turbocharging the economic bounce back from the pandemic, levelling-up rural and urban communities, delivering up to £59 billion in increased productivity every year and enable a million people to get back into employment.

Clive Selley, Openreach CEO, said: “Reaching six million homes and businesses with Full Fibre represents nearly a quarter of our total build target so is a significant milestone and underpins our commitment to build the largest and best Full Fibre network in the UK.

“We’re building Full Fibre faster, at lower cost and higher quality than anyone else in the UK and that is testimony to our engineers and build partners who are working flat-out to deliver this life-changing technology to rural, urban and suburban communities all over the country and we’re delighted to be fleshing out our plans with more details about where we’ll be building.

“More than a million customers are already enjoying our most revolutionary and reliable broadband ever and that number is growing all the time. That’s a great start, but there are millions more who could connect today – so I would urge people to check out our website to see when we’re coming to your street.”

Overall, more than 2,500 towns, cities, boroughs, villages, and hamlets have so-far been included in Openreach’s Fibre First programme – and the build is fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable broadband’ to 85 per cent of UK by 2025.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: "I am delighted that we are working with Openreach to boost Britain's broadband and level up access to the best digital connections. This latest milestone shows our infrastructure revolution is bearing fruit and our £5 billion Project Gigabit will ensure hard-to-reach areas across the UK don't miss out on faster and more reliable broadband."

Work will continue between now and 2026 – with full list of locations and timescales being updated regularly on the Openreach Website.

This short video explains what Full Fibre technology is, to find out if you can order Full Fibre today or when it will be available in your area, visit the Openreach Fibre Checker HERE.

[1] Based on reported average figures for Q2


Ten full fibre broadband facts:

  1. Research shows connecting everyone in the UK to full fibre broadband by 2025 could remove 300 million commuter trips, reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 360,000 tonnes each year.
  2. Fibre optics are strands of glass around one tenth the thickness of a human hair. They transmit data using light signals.
  3. A single strand of fibre can provide enough capacity to serve up to 32 individual properties with Gigabit speeds.
  4. Pure fibre optic broadband can run at speeds of 1 gigabit per second (1000Mbps). 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, bad weather and even old TVs! One recent report states fibre has five times fewer faults than copper connections.
  7. 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.
  8. Full fibre is better for the environment – the amount of electricity used to power fibre is significantly less than needed for copper cables.
  9. Full fibre can boost business productivity. It enables cheaper broadband powered phone services, and better access to cloud-based computing services. 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.
  10. Full fibre broadband will be crucial in supporting 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.1 

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.com