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Openreach hits halfway in UK broadband upgrade

December 7, 2023

By Colin Mann

UK digital infrastructure provider Openreach has now made its ultrafast Full Fibre broadband network available to 12.5 million homes, businesses and public services across the UK – marking the halfway point in its nationwide plan to reach 25 million premises with the technology by the end of 2026.

The company says it is building a next-generation Full Fibre network faster and further than any other UK provider – reaching around 60,000 new premises every week – or the equivalent of a town the size of Tunbridge Wells, in Kent. That means passing another home or business with ultrafast, gigabit-capable broadband every ten seconds.

Openreach intends to keep building after it reaches its initial 25 million target, reaching up to 30 million premises with Full Fibre by the end of 2030.

Meanwhile, as part of its regular programme of build updates, Openreach has published plans to deliver Full Fibre in another 142 locations – covering around 1.4 million homes and businesses, including in some of the hardest to reach, most rural communities in the UK.

“This is a national infrastructure project that’s a genuine success story,” commented Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach. “We’re delivering engineering on an epic scale, on time and on budget – and that’s thanks to a supportive policy environment which has led to huge investment and competition throughout the UK’s telecoms sector.”

“From a standing start just a few years ago, we’ve now made this life-changing technology available to 12.5 million premises and counting and we’re building faster than any operator I’m aware of in Europe.”

“Our build rate is still accelerating and it’ll take us half the time to reach our next 12.5 million. But we won’t be stopping there. Ultimately, we’ll reach up to 30 million premises by the end of the decade – unlocking a raft of economic and social benefits by supporting new models of commerce, healthcare and public services.”

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Sir John Whittingdale, said: “This marks an incredibly significant milestone, providing millions more people across the UK with access to transformative gigabit-capable connectivity.

“We know how important fast, reliable broadband is for homes, businesses and our vital public services, and with the support of government action, the UK is currently building gigabit networks faster than any than any country in the EU.

“It’s vital the industry maintains its pace of delivery, and extends if further supported by our £5 billion (€5.8bn) Project Gigabit, ensuring rural and hard to reach communities do not miss out. This marks another important step in our ambition for 85 per cent of properties to have access to Gigabit-capable connections by 2025 delivering a modern digital infrastructure to every corner of the UK.”

The roll-out of Full Fibre broadband across the country is an ambitious £15 billion infrastructure project to provide reliable, fast broadband that meets the needs of modern life, says Openreach.

More than four million homes and businesses have already connected to the new network and demand continues to rise – with the company growing its Full Fibre base by more than 30,000 new orders every week.

Roughly 1.8 million Terabytes of data is used on the Openreach network each week – equivalent to every single person in the country watching two full HD movies every day – and data consumption is rising every single year, as technology becomes more sophisticated and integral to people’s daily lives, with social changes such as working from home and the boom in online learning.

As well as improving the broadband that people use on a daily basis, the nationwide upgrade is set to improve the quality of UK public services. Openreach has already made Full Fibre available to over 13,400 medical facilities – including hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies across the country, as well as 8,300 care and nursing homes. It says the technology will benefit health services by improving connections with experts, remote monitoring of patients, easier access of records and faster appointments. Future applications, such as the use of AI to achieve better health outcomes by helping review, triage and refer patients based on diagnostic scans and data, are likely.

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