Openreach, the BT-owned group responsible for much of the UK’s broadband network infrastructure, has announced plans to bring its ultrafast broadband service to a further 81 locations. Under the new plans, the service will cover more than one million homes and businesses across the UK.
Manchester, London and Birmingham were among the 81 locations and will add to the 250 locations where the service currently exists.
Openreach announced that it would be incorporating its Gfast technology atop the existing infrastructure over the next nine months. Doing so means that affected homes and businesses will gain speeds of up to 330Mbps, which Openreach assert is seven times the current UK average.
Gfast works by having more fibre run from existing telephone exchange to a street cabinet. It then sends a more powerful signal over existing copper lines into homes and businesses.
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 be sure we stay ahead of the curve.
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.- Kim Mears: MD for Strategic Infrastructure Development, Openreach
While Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections are faster and more future-proof, Openreach said that the Gfast route would allow for a much quicker rollout.
So far, Openreach has brought faster broadband to 1.9 million UK premises, using a combination of FTTP and Gfast. The telecoms giant said that by the end of 2020 the company expects to have three million premises connected.
By the mid-2020s, Openreach said they will have introduced Gfast to 5.7 million properties and FTTP to ten million, with the proviso, ‘if the conditions are right to invest.’
Once part of BT, Openreach is now a wholly-owned but independently governed division of the BT Group. With a workforce of 30,400 and sales of $5.1 billion, Openreach has become the major force in the UK’s broadband infrastructure.
The government’s announced ambition – that the UK will require 15 million FTTP connections to residential properties by 2025 – puts increasing pressure on Openreach as it faces competition from companies such as CityFibre, Hyeroptic and Gigaclear to roll out full-fibre services across the UK.