BT 'ready' to accelerate fibre rollout

(Image credit: BT)

BT has said it is ready to play is part in accelerating the roll out of fibre broadband in the UK, claiming the wider availability of ultrafast broadband will help the country deliver its fibre ambitions and benefit shareholders.

The company has so far connected more than 1.4 million premises to fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology, with Openreach adding around 20,000 properties a week to the network, and recently increased its own fibre targets.

It now plans to cover four million by 2021 and 15 million by the mid-2020s – if it there is a suitable investment and regulatory climate. This would help the government achieve its current goal of full fibre coverage by 2033.

BT fibre

It now plans to cover four million by 2021 and 15 million by the mid-2020s – if it there is a suitable investment and regulatory climate. This would help the government achieve its current goal of full fibre coverage by 2033.

However, during the Conservative leadership election, now Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to bring this target forward to the mid-2020s. Johnson has not given any indication of how this would be achieved, but Openreach CEO Clive Selley has said it is not out of the question – provided the right support is given to the industry.

“I think those targets should be regarded as ‘stretch numbers’,” he said in June. “[But] they’re not unrealistic and I applaud ambition. [In the past few years] there has been a sea change at Openreach and we have every capability in place to accelerate.

And now BT CEO Philip Jansen has lent his support to the idea.

“We welcome the Government’s ambition for full fibre broadband across the country and we are confident we will see further steps to stimulate investment,” he said while presenting the company’s first quarter results.

“We are ready to play our part to accelerate the pace of rollout, in a manner that will benefit both the country and our shareholders, and we are engaging with the Government and Ofcom on this.”

BT is not the only company investing in full fibre infrastructure, with Virgin Media, TalkTalk, CityFibre, Hyperoptic and Gigaclear among those building out networks. However

It has been an eventful few months for BT, with the launch of EE 5G and the sale of its London headquarters for £210 million. Revenues fell by one per cent during the quarter to £5.6 billion, with BT reporting decreases in its consumer, enterprise and global divisions. BT also reported a net profit of £642 million.

However, demand for fibre connections saw Openreach revenue rise by 1 percent – an indication that the wider availability of fibre would be a good thing for BT, which also wants to offer converged products that combine mobile and fixed connectivity.

“We made good progress during the quarter, including launching the UK’s first 5G network, delivering an improvement to our group net promoter score for the twelfth consecutive quarter, announcing the first nine cities in our consolidated office footprint, and being named the major broadband universal service obligation provider for the UK,” added Jansen.

“In building a better BT for the future we need to be even more competitive. We will continue to take decisive action, including on price, to further strengthen our customer propositions and market position, both to respond to any short-term market pressures and to capitalise on longer-term opportunities.”