Openreach to bring ultrafast broadband to another 1m properties

Openreach plans to expand its ultrafast broadband footprint by more than one million properties over the next nine months.

The BT-owned organisation has already connected 1.9 million homes and businesses using a combination of G.Fast, which speeds up copper connections, and Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), and plans to reach 5.7 million by the end of the decade.

It has also expressed an interest in reach 10 million by the mid 2020s – if it has the right investment conditions.

Openreach ultrafast

This latest phase of the rollout will see 81 locations, including parts of London, Manchester and Birmingham as well as other parts of the country like Blackpool and Dover, added to the network using G.Fast.

Openreach promises that G.Fast will deliver at least 100Mbps to customers (although higher speeds of 330Mbps are possible) and will be more reliable than existing connections due to the use of software that intelligently detects and manages faults.

“Currently, the UK is a world leader in digital infrastructure and services, but as the digital revolution rushes forwards and the demand for data continues to grow, we need to sure we stay ahead of the curve,” said Kim Mears, MD for Strategic Infrastructure.  

”That’s why we’re investing in faster, more reliable network infrastructure to facilitate all the activities we want to do now, and also those we haven’t even dreamt of doing in ten years’ time.”

Having previously maintained that making use of copper assets was the fastest way to bring superfast broadband to as many people as possible using Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), BT has now adopted a “fibre first” strategy.

Openreach will upgrade fewer copper lines with G.Fast than previously planned in recognition that full fibre connectivity is now the preferred technology of both industry and the government.

The government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) has called for 15 million properties to be covered with fibre by 2025 and for nationwide coverage to be completed by 2033. It would then consider switching off the UK’s copper network.

Several other providers, including Virgin Media, TalkTalk, CityFibre, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic are also building FTTP networks.

Mobile operators have continually called for the greater availability of fibre in the UK as these ultrafast connections will be essential to providing backhaul for the site and small cell infrastructure that will power 5G networks.

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.