5G industry news Telecommunications Tech | Private Networks

Openreach fibre rollout hits 10 million milestone

  • 4 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 23 Mar 2023
  • Last modified 22 Mar 2023
Written by Andrew Wooden for Telecoms.com

Openreach, BT’s wholesale arm, has declared full fibre broadband is now available to 10 million homes, businesses and public services across the UK.

The milestone was reached with the plugging-in of a village called Kettonin the East Midlands to the Openreach fibre network. The £15 billion project ultimately is intended to hook up 25 million homes and businesses across the country by the end of 2026.

Openreach says the rollout is ‘set to improve the quality of UK public services’, and that its fibre network is now available to over 9,000 medical facilities such as GP surgeries, hospitals and research labs, and over 13,500 educational facilities such as nurseries, schools and universities.

We’re also told it’s now available to more than 3 million premises in ‘hard to reach’ rural parts of the country, and over 3 million in areas the Government has apparently identified as a priority for ‘levelling up’. It’s also now available to 409,000 premises the top 25 areas identified by the Social Mobility Commission as least socially mobile, we’re further informed.

The firm also makes the claim that 431,000 new workers could enter the workforce by 2026 thanks to fibre increasing the capability for people to work from home. It also cites the Centre for Economics and Business Research who reckons ‘the full fibre transformation’ could give a £72 billion boost to the output of the UK economy in 2030.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our transformation of the UK’s broadband,” said Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach. “Not only will access to Full Fibre technology improve the speed and reliability of the internet connections used by people, businesses and public services, it also provides us with the infrastructure we need to meet the demands of an increasingly digital world. With this upgrade, we can improve the lives of people in the UK, offering economic opportunities, alleviating social challenges and creating the foundation for life-changing technology.”

“Now we’re focused on the next phase of our build. Our engineers are building rapidly across the country and we already have plans in place that will see Full Fibre broadband reach over 25 million premises. We’re excited for the future that Full Fibre will create for everybody across the UK.”

Th tone of the announcement almost implies the fibre rollout is some sort of altruistic public service the firm has taken it upon themselves to spend $15 billion to deliver, but to be fair you often get those sorts of noises with announcements of this type from the rest of the market.

While fibre brings benefits to customers – what sort of an unappealing product wouldn’t – the laying of it is of course a business and one which the incumbent is the dominant player. It’s this strong position, combined with recent plans to cut prices for retail ISPs wanting access to Openreach’s network in exchange for long-term agreements, that has led to some protestations from rivals.

It probably didn’t help that last week BT CEO Phillip Jenson appeared to be feeling particularly bombastic in an interview with the FT. The article opened with: “BT’s chief executive said the telecoms group had turned its broadband network into an “unstoppable machine” that will ultimately “end in tears” for many of its fibre competitors.” It should be noted Jansen has come out since and said his comments were taken out of context.

Regardless, Ofcom soon after announced it was extending its investigation into the new pricing system, dubbed Equinox 2, and suggested Openreach voluntarily delays the launch of the offer until investigation is done. With all that in mind, perhaps it’s not a terrible idea to lean into the humanitarian benefits of your successes, instead of adopting phrases a Bond villain might use to describe some super powerful terror weapon.

Click here to read the original article.