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Full-Fibre Broadband to Boost Post-Covid Economic Recovery

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Openreach today outlined plans to make ultra-reliable and gigabit-capable FTTP broadband available to more than three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s hardest to serve communities.

This follows a new consultation from industry regulator Ofcom, published today, where it proposes that such a build commitment from Openreach is sufficient for them to extend the fibre enablers previously set out in their WFTMR ii consultation for Area 2 iii, to Area 3.  This will contribute to the right investment conditions for Area 3 being in place. Ofcom has estimated that there are 9.6 million homes and businesses situated in this final third of the country.

The build to 3.2m UK premises forms part of a massive £12 billion investment which will see Openreach’s ambition to build ‘Full Fibre’ iv 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.

The company is also publishing an extended list of 250 locations in the final third where it will build the new network over the next three years v  including the likes of Millom, Thurso, Ballycastle and Aberystwyth.

The data provides more clarity on its plans – giving greater certainty to local authorities, investors and customers – and supports the UK Government’s strategy to accelerate commercial investments in Full Fibre networks throughout the UK.

Openreach CEO, Clive Selley, said:

“This year we’ve all seen the importance of having a decent broadband connection and at Openreach, we’re convinced that Full Fibre technology can underpin the UK’s economic recovery.

“Right now, we’re building a new, ultra-reliable full-fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come. It’s Ofcom’s proposals that give us the right conditions to build commercially in hardest to reach areas.

“We’re determined to find inventive engineering solutions and effective partnership funding models to reduce costs and enable us to connect as many communities as possible across the UK without public subsidy.

“Openreach is leading the charge to help Government achieve its target of making gigabit capable networks available nationwide by 2025. And we hope that by publishing our own plans, we can help ensure that taxpayers only fund connections in communities that really need public support.”

There are clear economic, social and environmental benefits to building full fibre in rural areas. A report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) – “Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth”  has revealed that with a future-proof and reliable fibre connection to every property by 2025:

  • UK productivity would be boosted by £59 billion each year
  • Half a million people could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity enabling them to carry out parenting or caring responsibilities alongside work
  • At least 400,000 more people could work from home, allowing them to live and work where they choose
  • 270,000 people could be freed to move out of cities in rural areas – helping stimulate regional and rural economic growth
  • 300 million commuting trips could be saved each year, with three billion fewer kilometres travelled by car – which would lead to an annual reduction in CO2  emissions of 360,000 tonnes

Openreach has already built Full Fibre technology to over three million premises across the UK – including over a quarter in the final third of the country. People interested in seeing whether they can upgrade their broadband can see what’s available in their area by entering their postcode into our online fibre checker.