Openreach to expand its network to 227 market towns & rural areas
Written by: Charlotte Hathway | Published:

Openreach has outlined plans to bring its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to 227 market towns and villages across the UK. New locations will include Aberdare in South Wales and Saxmundham in Suffolk.

The plans follow village trials launched at the end of last year where engineers developed new tools, skills and techniques to help Openreach extend its full fibre network into areas previously considered too complex or expensive to upgrade.

Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, commented, “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.”

He added, “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.”

Openreach says that rural businesses and homes that have access to its ‘full fibre’ technology can create new market and business opportunities. Callestick Farm, in Cornwall, says fibre broadband helped it 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’s FTTP network reaches over two million homes and businesses. Building for this portion of its FTTP programme will commence within the next 14 months, and the company said it will reach 250,000 homes and businesses.

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