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Openreach unveils plans to connect 3 million to full fibre by 2020

Openreach declares the positives in its annual review

In its first annual review since distancing itself from BT, Openreach declares there have been many positives in its operations.

This is the first ever annual review charting not only their national network deployment progress, but also the many internal changes they’ve had to make over the past 12 months due to the regulatory changes demanded by Ofcom and the Government.

Openreach has declared that it is now more independent of BT than ever before. It said its fibre rollout was forging ahead and asserted that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now very happy with its operation.

Openreach claimed to have built 97,000 street cabinets, 5,600 exchange buildings and that their network is now 165 million kilometres long. The network itself, they said, now serves 32 million premises and is supported by 30,400 engineers.

Following the split from BT, Openreach was able to ‘discuss and consider new business models, including co-funding opportunities’ which they stated could expand the network expansion even further.

This is considered a recognition of the increasing number of small firms rolling out their own fibre, which has seen some providers cutting out BT altogether.

The review said that Openreach had ‘halted and reversed a six-year rise in the total number of faults on our network.’ It invested more than £30 million into proactive maintenance which resulted in the saving of 175,000 engineering visits and even claimed that it was now fixing faults before customers had reported them.

This year we continued to grow our superfast broadband network. We were proud to do the heavy lifting on the Government’s commitment to make superfast available to 95% of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2017.

This is no mean feat. Few countries around the world can point to such a widespread superfast footprint. But everyone in Britain should be able to get decent broadband speeds and we’re still 5% short of good enough.

Let me be clear, we believe in a full fibre future. In fact, I think a future-proofed digital network is essential to the UK’s productivity and prosperity. It will serve Britain’s people and businesses for decades to come. So, we need to develop a viable business case which makes that possible.

- Mike McTighe: Chariman, Openreach

Openreach’s upfront review even admitted that, ‘in the past we weren’t as focused or proactive as we should have been in addressing what’s important to our Communications Provider customers.’

This, it was felt, was aimed primarily at telecoms companies such as CityFibre, which made no secret of its unhappiness with Openreach when it attempted to compete with it.

Setting priorities for next year, Openreach said it would:

  • Hire and train 3,500 new engineers.
  • Deliver the BDUK broadband rollout programme.
  • Meet its contractual minimum service levels, making repairs 3% faster than currently.

This reflects the new universal service obligation meaning every UK household can request, by law, a 10Mbps broadband service from the end of 2020.

By:

A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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