Openreach unveils plans to expand FTTP footprint to 4m by 2021

(Image credit: Openreach)

Openreach has detailed the next 29 locations to be connected to its Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) network as it presses ahead with plans to expand its footprint to four million homes and businesses by the end of March 2021.

So far, Openreach has connected 1.8 million properties to the network – half of which were added over the past year – and is targeting 15 million by the mid-2020s. This target was expanded earlier this year.

This is the first time that Openreach has detailed its coverage plans over an 18 month period rather than 12 months. The company says this will give customers, councils and the public a better idea of when they can expect the upgrades.

Openreach FTTP rollout

“Full-fibre broadband provides a reliable, future-proof, consistent and dependable service that will be a platform for economic growth and prosperity throughout the UK for decades to come,” said Clive Selley, Openreach CEO.

“We’re now building at a massive scale. Every 28 seconds we pass a home or business with our new future-proofed full fibre network. This has given us ever greater confidence in the level and accuracy of whatever we announce – which is why we’ve now laid out our build plans right up to the target delivery date of four million premises by March 2021.

“We also want to ensure we give our stakeholders – like council leaders, planners and MPs – the best view of where and when we intend to build so we can work together to build as rapidly as possible and help encourage people to take up the technology when it arrives.”

Openreach has indicated it would be willing to go even further – if the economic conditions are right.

The current government target for switching off the UK’s copper network is 2033, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants this brought forward to 2025. The industry has said such an ambitious goal isn’t out of the question – but only if regulations are favourable and government financial support is present.

The government believes that up to 80 per cent of the country will be covered by commercial deployments from BT and others, but wants industry to go further. Some have placed the total cost of extending coverage nationwide – including rural areas – at £30 billion. Earlier this week, the government confirmed a £5 billion funding package to facilitate the rollout.

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.