Openreach has completed what they claim is the fastest city-wide network build in the UK – making ’Full Fibre’ broadband available to more than 20,000 premises in just under 12-months, starting in March 2019 and finishing in March 2020. Plans to announce the completion in March were postponed in light of the pandemic.
Clive Selley, CEO of UK digital infrastructure provider Openreach, has joined local MP John Glen to urge homes and businesses to switch to a new ultrafast and ultra-reliable broadband network – as Salisbury celebrates becoming the first entire city in the UK to gain access to Openreach’s new, future-proof Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology.
So far, 800 homes and businesses have upgraded to the new Full Fibre service, but recent research suggests the network could bring a range of economic, social and environmental benefits as the city looks to bounce back from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) – commissioned by Openreach, part of BT – revealed that connecting everyone in the South West of England to ‘Full Fibre’ broadband by 2025 would create a £4.3 billion (€4.79bn) boost to the region’s economy. The report also found that 42,000 people in the region could return to work through enhanced connectivity – including in small businesses and through entrepreneurship.
The new network will allow thousands more people to work remotely, unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next-generation of home-grown businesses.
In another first, Salisbury has been Openreach’s flagship pilot site for developing and testing ways to upgrade the UK’s old analogue phone network to a new digital service – where voice calls are carried over the same fibre cables as people’s broadband – instead of traditional copper wires.
From December 2020, residents and businesses will no longer be able to buy a traditional analogue landline as part of a longer-term plan to retire slower and less reliable copper based network throughout the country .
“There has never been a better time to upgrade to a Full Fibre broadband service,” suggested Selley. “This new digital platform can help the UK’s economy bounce back more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic and that can start right here in Salisbury. A full recovery is likely to be measured in years rather than months, but there’s strong evidence that points to Full Fibre broadband being able to turbo-charge that process.”
“And from December, if you live in the city of Salisbury and want to change your broadband, you’ll have to upgrade to Full Fibre as we start to move closer to a digital world. It makes no sense to run two networks side-by-side, so we’re planning to retire the old, analogue network entirely
“For Salisbury’s homes, shops, GP surgeries and schools, it will mean fewer broadband faults, faster connections, and a consistent reliable network that will serve the city for decades to come. From home-working to healthcare, digital trade to entertainment, the possibilities that this new network can bring are almost limitless.”
“I’ve welcomed Openreach’s commitment to Salisbury and the hard work of their engineers which means we are now one of the best-connected places in the country,” added Glen. “Now is the time for people and businesses in the city to capitalise on this investment. The Coronavirus lockdown has brought into sharp focus the critical role broadband connectivity plays in our lives – whether it is enabling people to work from home, small businesses to trade online or children to keep up with their studies while schools and colleges are closed.”
“Full Fibre is more reliable and faster so can help us do much more online, and much more efficiently. For example, it can boost business productivity by enabling cheaper broadband powered phone services, and better access to cloud-based computer services. It is also future-proofed, so will serve Salisbury well for the next wave of bandwidth hungry innovations which consumers and businesses will demand in the years ahead. “If we’re able to harness these benefits now it will give us a digital springboard for future growth.”
“Connectivity has never been more important to both residents and businesses, and I’m delighted that the people of Salisbury are now able to take advantage of Full Fibre broadband,” declared Councillor Ian Blair-Pilling, Cabinet Member for IT, Digitalisation and Operational Assets, Wiltshire Council. “This is all about making sure our community has access to the right technology, for now and in the future, and I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits this brings to our city.”