Openreach has announced plans to bring FTTP to what it calls ‘harder to reach’ areas in the UK, to help meet its target of 4 million homes and businesses passed by March 2021.
Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, said: “Our full fibre build programme is going great guns – having passed over 2 million premises already on the way to our 4 million 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…We intend to build a significant portion of our full-fibre network in these harder to reach areas of the UK and are announcing 227 locations today. Our ambition is to reach 15 million premises by mid-2020s if the right investment conditions are in place.”
In order to bring fibre to harder to reach places, Openreach has been developing new tools, skills and techniques to help it reach areas previously considered too complex or too expensive. This has included ‘diamond cutters’ – giant rotating blades that can slice through roads and pavements, slashing the time to deploy fibre cables – to drones that can fly fibre across rivers and valleys, to ground-penetrating radar to guide diggers.
Openreach says that in the North East of England alone, connecting rural areas to full fibre would deliver a £1.7 billion boost to the region’s economy (‘Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth’ by CEBR, 2019), bringing 20,000 people back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity.
The 227 rural exchanges being upgraded can be found here.