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Openreach Summarises Broadband Progress in First Annual Review

Thursday, July 26th, 2018 (3:38 pm) - Score 2,183

Telecoms giant Openreach (BT) has just published their first ever Annual Review 2017/18, which charts both their national network deployment progress and the many internal changes they’ve had to make over the past 12 months (mostly as a result of regulatory changes from Ofcom and the Government).

Regular readers of ISPreview.co.uk won’t find anything terribly new or surprising inside the somewhat promotional report, which largely summarises information and developments that already exist in the public domain. Nevertheless it’s a useful summary for the uninitiated and there are plenty of big statistics to chew threw.

For example, Openreach claims to have now built a total of 97,000 street cabinets (not all FTTC ones of course), as well as 5,600 exchange buildings and their network is said to be 165 million kilometres long. The network itself serves 32 million premises and is supported by 30,400 engineers.

The operator also claims to have “halted and reversed a six-year rise in the total number of faults on our network,” which they achieved by investing more than £30m into proactive maintenance (i.e. saving 175,000 engineering visits last year – because “we were fixing faults before our CP customers even reported them to us“). More money will be going toward this next year.

On the financial front their revenue has remained flat and operating profit was down 7%, although this has to be balanced against around £230m worth of regulatory price changes. Meanwhile capital expenditure was £1,573m, up £126m or 9% (2015/16: up £365m or 34%) “reflecting our ongoing investment in fibre coverage and speed, and the delivery of more complex Ethernet circuits.”


Openreach adds that the above “was after gross grant income of £159m (2015/16: £320m) directly related to our activity on the Broadband Delivery UK programme build and offset by the deferral of £185m of the total grant income (2015/16: £227m) due to strong levels of fibre broadband take-up” (i.e. gainshare / clawback from the state aid supported superfast broadband rollout contracts).

Mike McTighe, Openreach Chairman, said:

“This year we continued to grow our superfast broadband network.

Today it delivers speeds of at least 24 Mbps to more than 27.5 million premises. 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.

We won’t stop until we close the gap. And we fully support the Government’s objective to deliver a [10Mbps] Universal Service Obligation.

Having achieved such widespread access to superfast broadband, it’s right that we shift our focus to the next generation of ultrafast (100+ Mbps) infrastructure.

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.

This year we’ve made big progress – honing our skills, tools and techniques, taking our overall ultrafast footprint to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses using FTTP and Gfast technologies. Having consulted our Communications Providers customers during the summer, we now have an accelerated plan to make full fibre/FTTP connections available to 3 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.

But we want to go a lot further – to 10 million premises and ultimately most of the UK if the business case is feasible. So we now have a Fibre First approach to every network expansion decision we make.

We’ve begun work in eight major cities and I firmly believe that with the right conditions we can reach 10 million premises by the mid-2020s and the majority of the UK thereafter. We’ve also continued to develop technologies that will help us deliver ultrafast connectivity to people quickly and cost effectively.”

The full report can be downloaded below.

Openreach Annual Review 2017/18

Leave a Comment
24 Responses
  1. Avatar Gordon Thomas

    If Openreach can tell me if/when G.Fast will be delivered to DH8 7RL, that’s all I care about from the monopoly that is BT….

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Nothing stopping others building.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “Nothing stopping others building.” Wrong! Certain areas are not economically viable. The commercial telecoms sector has been a market failure.

  2. Avatar Optical

    I’m in Bath,which was/is a G Fast area, G Fast cab was installed on my cabinet early last summer,still not live.

  3. Avatar chris conder

    The strange thing is that even I could have written that report in 2009 and filed it away to be opened today. We said this is exactly what they would do. Patch up the copper, then eventually put some fibre in cities where the ducts are decent to show willing, and cover up statistics with these ‘homes passed’ figures that can’t be disproved without government working very hard, and that they don’t. So again, the digitalbritain superfarce rocks on. Paying lip service, and sports rights and getting to masts… they have had three decades to develop a business plan. It will take three more before we see one. They will hang on to this copper unless competition forces them into doing the job right. Support needs to go to altnets, not this obsolete monopoly.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Its a market, altnets can and are doing fine. They just need to do more of the same.

      We certainly don’t want to punish / stop BT rolling out so altnets can. We’ve been there and done that in the past (Thatcher, Cable era) and this is why we have less fibre than we do now.

      Who is supporting Openreach? They are just doing what they are doing. And have rolled out more FTTP that anyone in the UK.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @CC – did you have a plan with how to deal with LLU?

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: Why are you so concerned about LLU? LLU providers knew about the risks, now they have to bite the bullet when copper is switched off, or when others build fibre networks. And it is to be hoped that no more taxpayer’s money will be wasted on BT in the future.

    • Avatar Whatever

      Altnets? South Yorkshire, failed. Fujitsu, cried off. Numerous other council supported initiatives… all failed.

      The road to the superfast utopia is paved with the corpses of altnets that thought they could do better than openreach. There’s still plenty of scope for many of the current altnets to bite the dust.

      Certainly any altnet that relies on the grace and favour of farmers giving free access to land, and mrs miggins in her nighty using a mole plough trying not to take her foot off would seem to be in a precarious position indeed.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “Certainly any altnet that relies on the grace and favour of farmers giving free access to land, and mrs miggins in her nighty using a mole plough trying not to take her foot off would seem to be in a precarious position indeed.”

      B4RN has sold well over £1 million in shares. Gigaclear is valued over £200 million
      Cityfibre sold for over £500 million….

      The only thing of no worth seems to be your opinion.

  4. Avatar JP

    We live in Gloucestershire 5 miles from the nearest town. The phone service from openreach was so unreliable that it failed 9 times in 2 years, mainly due to incompetence and arrogance of BT. This includes cable running along the edge of fields overground. “How can you expect a service 5 miles from a town said one engineer.

    Along come Gigaclear and run fibre optic under all the road verges, set up wayleaves to cross land and run fibre to everyone’s back door. Outcome is that we now have 200mb (up to 1GB) and phone and data facilities people stuck on overreach can only dream of. Plus we get wonderful service 24by 7. Connection cost £250 and its £46 per month. BT used to have a monopoly but lost it through bad decisions, terrible service, arrogance and wasting money they didn’t have on things like sport.

    If finally and partly because of the threat from newcomers like gigaclear, virgin media , hyperoptic etc they start becoming responsible about doing the job properly then that is welcome. But I am heartily pleased that aside from EE I don’t have to have anything to do with BT. Let’s hope they don’t mess up EE.

    Failing? Gigaclear has just been bought for £250million!

  5. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

    ” Openreach claims to have now built a total of 97,000 street cabinets (not all FTTC ones of course), as well as 5,600 exchange buildings”

    Where can records for these 5,600 new buildings be found?

    • Avatar GNewton

      un4h731x0rp3r0m: “Where can records for these 5,600 new buildings be found?” These are not new buildings, it refers to the number of existing exchange buildings. In theory many of them could become obsolete if it was possible to replace copper with fibre.

    • Avatar Fastman


      don’t claim to have. Actually have around 97,000 in the network of which Probably circa 80,000 + (if not more are fibres enabled. sure mark can confirm how many have either been enabled with FTTc or built as FTTP (since 2010 — you can work the maths out but I think that works out a quite a few cabs going live each day every day for the last 7 – 8 years )

      the comment about the exchange buildngs in priceless

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Oh i see it is another BT red herring whack in a figure for something that has not changed in years and make out it is linked to your current progress.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Read the report, it does not claim to have built 5600 new buildings, simply that it has 5600.

    • Avatar dean

      Pretty much what he said then an old figure that has nothing to do with current progress.

  6. Avatar Fastman

    interesting comment around B4RN

    B4RN has sold well over £1 million in shares.

    that amount don’t last long when you have network ./ hardware and kit upgrades to fund which I assume will have to do in the not to distant future

    interesting gigaclear sold for 250m that to pay the investors their money. It will be very interesting what it looks like when it comes out the other side and Is dealt with and has the same phorensic analysis on its BDUK figures as others currently have

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      B4RN seem to be doing just fine from their £1 Million in shares considering their network keeps growing.

      Gigaclear is valued at more than £200 Million i have not read 100% confirmation of its sale here on ISPreview.

      If it does/did sell for that or the most recent offer i can find of £270 Million that will mean shares that were valued at 300-325 at end of 2017 will result in around a 25% gain on investment.

      For early shareholders which got in at the price of 62p per share that will equate to a 540+% premium.

      I think its fair to say both are a success stories, why you would try to spin it otherwise is as always obvious.

    • Avatar dean

      “shares that were valued at 300-325 at end of 2017”

      Impressive that is a higher share price than BT’s currently. Altnets not successful, what a dumb thing to even suggest.

    • Avatar Fastman

      you etiher misread or choose to misread my comments

      1m is not a lot when you have major network enhancement to pay for with and B4RN will have do to sooner or Later on core network or back haul network Hardware

      re Gigaclear once the investors have had all the money back , the question is will their be a continuing investment at the same level moving forward. also they will come under scrutiny about BDUK funding and take up as well and coverage completion against contractual milestones.

    • Avatar dean

      B4RN continues to grow, both financially and rollout wise. They are doing just fine.

      Gigaclear is doing just fine also. Why would anyone buy them for hundreds of millions and then not do anything with them or invest further?

      For some reason you just sound sour about how well both of them are doing.

    • Avatar Carl T

      The B4RN core is hugely over-engineered and will be fine for a while. It makes an operating profit and shouldn’t have too much trouble with upgrades. Port channeling 10G interfaces will be fine for the foreseeable.

      The access network is simple switches with SFPs. They can swap out SFPs to deliver 10G and can upgrade the entire switch when they need to. Those are relatively inexpensive.

      They have fewer customers than BT Wholesale do on many single exchanges. They don’t have DSLAMs to abandon followed by G.fast pods and they don’t need MSEs or BRAS as no PPPoE.

      Apart from the length of the fibre runs B4RN is basically a large, all-fibre campus network. It should be thought of in that manner, with some transit and peering attached 🙂

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Great explanation on why they are doing just fine Carl T

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