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Openreach targets 36 locations for expanded fibre broadband

Openreach footway box man.jpg

Openreach, the UK’s wholesale last-mile company, says it will extend all-fibre broadband to 36 new locations, with work due to start over the next 12 months.

The company is a 100% subsidiary of BT but wholesales connectivity to all UK broadband operators.

CEO Clive Selley said: “The government wants to see a nationwide full fibre network and we’re keen to lead the way in helping them achieve that. We know that if it’s going to happen, Openreach will need to be at the front doing the heavy lifting, so we’re working hard to build a commercially viable plan.”

Openreach is seeing increased competition from rival fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) providers, such as CityFibre, which wants to make its fibre available to two million homes across 26 towns and cities. House-builders are also getting into the market and a projected start-up by TalkTalk is trying to raise funds.

BT has already raised its FTTH ambitions from 3 million to 4 million premises by March 2021, and a recent report from the regulator, Ofcom, said: “BT also announced an ambition for Openreach fibre to reach 15 million premises by the mid-2020s”, adding: “But this is not a firm commitment.”

This latest Openreach statement included a number of new locations for fibre in England but also more intensive work in Scotland, where the Scottish Government is supporting more investment in FTTP by extending rates – local property tax – relief on new fibre broadband networks.

Selley said: “One headwind to investment which affects all full fibre builders is business rates, and we’ve been encouraged by the Scottish Government’s move to extend rates relief north of the border. I’m convinced that prioritising investment in faster, more reliable and future proof broadband networks will prove to be a no-regrets decision for future generations.”

The company doubled its FTTP footprint last year and says it continues to ramp up the build – making the technology available to more than 20,000 new homes and businesses every week across the UK.