Openreach selects Nokia and Huawei for UK fibre rollout

Openreach has selected Huawei and Nokia to deliver new equipment that will support the goal of covering three million homes and businesses with fibre to the premise (FTTP) connectivity by the end of the decade.

Specifically, the two suppliers will provide electronics that support Openreach’s exchange-based equipment and translate high speed data signals between premises and the wider network.

Huawei’s kit is already being deployed while Nokia will start its rollout early next year.

Openreach fibre

Openreach’s ‘fibre-first’ approach represents a shift in strategy for the company, which has used fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology for the overwhelming majority of its superfast broadband rollout.

As part of the first phase of the FTTP rollout, Openreach will connect 40 towns, cities and boroughs. The nine cities confirmed so far are Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

There are plans to extend this to a further 10 million premises by the mid 2020s and even further – if Openreach has the “right conditions” to invest.

“We’ll be going flat out to make FTTP available to three million homes by the end of 2020, and we want to reach 10 million by the mid-2020s, so using cutting-edge technology will be integral to achieving that,” said Peter Bell, CTO and NGA Operations Director at Openreach.

“Britons consume more than double the amount of data they did just three years ago and whilst we’re already a leading digital economy, Openreach continues to invest in network upgrades to make sure we can repeat that success and keep well ahead of demand.”

Mobile operators have consistently called for more fibre in the UK to support their own networks. Fibre connectivity is essential for mobile backhaul and will become even more so as operators roll out microarchitecture to densify their networks ahead of the arrival of 5G in 2020.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.