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Openreach Name Coventry as Next UK City for FTTP Broadband

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 (11:56 am) - Score 4,309

Telecoms giant Openreach (BT) has today announced that the city of Coventry in the West Midlands of England will be the next to benefit from their “Fibre First” programme, which aims to deploy 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP technology to cover 3 million premises by the end of 2020.

So far the operator’s “full fibreFTTP network, which takes their optical fibre cable all the way to your home or business, has covered 631,000 premises across the UK. The inclusion of Coventry should eventually add “tens of thousands of homes and businesses” to that figure (once again Openreach is being very coy about giving a specific figure). We understand that their roll-out in the city is starting in Radford.

The operator’s current deployment plan is expected to focus on reaching up to 40 UK towns, cities or boroughs. Including Coventry they’ve already announced deployments for Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and The Wirral.

Most recently they’ve also started work on their Birmingham roll-out, with some of the first places to benefit including Erdington, Great Barr, Streetly and Sutton Coldfield.

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said:

“We are making significant progress in the West Midlands as we get on with building the infrastructure Britain needs to stay ahead in the global digital economy. I’m delighted to announce that families and businesses in Coventry will soon be among the first in the UK to benefit from this commitment.

Our engineers have so far built full fibre broadband technology to more than 600,000 premises and are already working in nearby Birmingham, which was one of the first ‘fibre cities’ announced earlier this year. Despite the challenges of planning, street works and permissions, we’re reaching thousands of homes each week and we’re on track for our ambition of reaching 10 million premises by the mid-2020s.”

Margot James MP, UK Digital Minister, said:

“Making sure that people have access to full fibre broadband, as quickly as is realistically possible, is of huge importance. It’s great to see Openreach making significant progress in the West Midlands, adding Coventry to the list of areas to benefit from the early stages of the programme. And it was really interesting to get a behind the scenes look at the civil engineering work that’s at the forefront of introducing this new technology.”

A quick glance at Thinkbroadband‘s database reveals that nearly 97% of Coventry can already access a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) capable network, which is largely thanks to Openreach’s existing but much slower Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) network and Virgin Media’s 362Mbps capable cable coverage (the latter reaches around 75% of local premises). FTTP already covers 4.91% of the city but just 1.15% is via Openreach.

One rather important point in all this is that Cityfibre and Vodafone have already announced their plans to cover Coventry with 1Gbps FTTH broadband by the end of 2021 (here) and so they’re unlikely to be very happy about today’s announcement.

Lest we forget that Hyperoptic is also doing something similar with large apparent blocks in the city. Aggressive commercial competition seems to be spreading into the FTTP sector, which may be good for consumers (albeit disruptive in terms of civil engineering) but will make life harder for newer alternative network providers.

Openreach also hold an ambition to extend FTTP to cover 10 million UK premises by around 2025, although that is still subject to the outcome of on-going negotiations.

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18 Responses
  1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    Openreach are already providing FTTP and Contract 3 starts this autumn so lots of Fibre passing commercial areas around Coventry/Warwick. OR have done their numbers and determined its feasible on the forecast take up. So OR will be offering either FTTP or both FTTC/FTTP using the same backhaul and offering full the freedom of main ISPs. With Virgin Media also present in parts, Vodafone will have its work cut out to get the conversion they need unless they are prepared to use Talktalk predatory pricing (York) which is still risky.
    Cityfibre might hope that early investment will deter OR from their areas but once the dinosaur (affectionally known as coppersaurus) gets going its unlikely to stop. This is unlikely to be a tactical decision as a business case gestation period in BT/OR is very long and this has probably been on the planners desk for some time. Cityfibre would be better to concentrate where OR will have no significant FTTP presence.

  2. Avatar Granola says:

    Typical.
    You will be able to get fibre(ish) broadband from Vigin, Voda/City and the O.R. crew.
    Surely if suppliers chose areas not already supplied they would get a larger take up ?
    There are many areas with no FTTP, why not go there instead of triple covering already covered areas ?

    (Yes, no coverage where I live).

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      I personally thought the Altnets would avoid OR in the short term. If you look at the CSW map its clear that this is fertile OR ground. So the error has to be with Cityfibre, I bet they are meeting with Vodafone very soon.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      If you look at BDUK related FTTC maps across the UK then you might see the same picture in much of the country. Does that mean altnets shouldn’t invest anywhere except the most commercially unviable ones? That’s not exactly fair or realistic.

      CF/Voda announced their intention to cover Coventry with FTTH months ago. It’s a touch ridiculous to then blame them when Openreach crops up later. Any guessing game you play about where or when a rival might turn up is going to be fraught with difficulty, so operators have to go with what makes most sense based on known plans and strategy.

      Remember that Openreach aren’t averse to strategic targeting either, so even deploying into an area where all signs suggest they might not crop up is no guarantee of security. On the flip side, as a commercial investment, there’s nothing to say Openreach shouldn’t do FTTP wherever they want, but it doesn’t necessarily help the overall investment case for the technology when there’s lots of overbuild.

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Agree but I was really referring to the short term, density and where Openreach are due to be active imminently.

  3. Avatar AndyC says:

    Will voda/city fibre care at all?
    Their prices are so much lower then ive seen bt charge and there is still only a hand full of resellers useing openreach fttp packages.
    If i lived there i already know who i would go with.

  4. Avatar CJ says:

    It seems inevitable that openreach will mainly target urban areas where VM is well established. The economics of winning back customers who don’t currently pay a penny to BT or openreach must be better than the marginal extra revenue from upgrading areas where there is no effective competition.

    It seems likely that talktalk will do the opposite and target mainly urban areas that for whatever reason got missed by VM and its predecessors. Hence talk of mid-sized towns and cities.

    I expect Cityfibre / Vodafone would also like to avoid competing with VM, but they have the problem that their existing network is in many of the same places. I can see them ending up in a three-way battle with VM and openreach quite often.

  5. Avatar Dillon C. says:

    Quite telling that OR are not prepared to invest in expanding their network in the south east. All investment is up north. A better strategy would have been to leave the northern areas of the UK to Altnets, before the money runs out

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Locations announced so far are spread across the UK, purposely. Kent and Surrey still has non commercial areas praying for “Superfast” and they don’t appear to have considered FTTP phases yet. West Sussex are supporting a Cityfibre spine with Local Full Fibre Network funding. We may see Cityfibre announcements coming in West Sussex. In addition OR are probably awaiting to see what the New Builds look like as there is significant activity and competition in the South East (OFNL etc.).
      It’s logical for OR to consider their early FTTP rollouts where they will be providing rural FTTP under BDUK or large New Builds. Its not a dependency but understandable. As MJ has highlighted its very difficult for the Altnets to guess where the rest of the initial 40 locations will be.

  6. Avatar Mark W says:

    I find it funny that when my housing estate in Coventry was built 2 years ago, neither OpenReach or Virgin thought about laying the cables then. Looks like they’ll be coming along to dig up a brand new road.

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Unusual if the developer/OR did not provide duct for telephony. But yes an Altnet or VM would need to channel if market research shows your estate is viable. It could be you will have all of them falling over themselves.

    2. Avatar A_Builder says:

      @Mark W

      Odd

      There is a USO for telephony if nothing else……..OR would have to provide phone lines on demand.

      Would be highly highly unusual for there to be no telephone lines on a new estate. Apart from anything else you wouldn’t be able to get a normal mortgage in the UK is standard services were not connected…….

      OR do you mean that it was wired with direct buried copper so relaying for fibre is a bigger project than it should have been? I suspect that is more likely the case.

    3. Avatar Fastman says:

      Mark

      do you mean its ducted but not fibred

      or its a lockout and it has no openreach network

      which development is this

  7. Avatar Granola says:

    I hope triple coverage doesn’t count in the U.K. coverage, ie if Virgin Voda and OR (+ others) each say they cover so many % of the UK and it gets added up to make a figure (5%) whilst really it is much less as they are covering the same area multiple times, whilst the Government slaps itself on the back for encouraging the alleged increase in coverage.

  8. Avatar A_Builder says:

    Or maybe this is just good news that the good citizens and businesses of Conventry will soon have a lot of choose on good connections.

    Finally something identifiable is happening.

    More fiber is better and more competition is better.

    OR are big enough and old enough to take the hit if they get it wrong. A few mistakes focus the mind wonderfully.

  9. Avatar Rahul says:

    To be honest there will be very few premises from each of the cities who will be benefited with FTTP now. Initially Openreach announced the Fibre First programme for 8 cities. But now we have 3 more including Coventry added to that list making it 11 cities. I find that somewhat disappointing.

    I did say something like this before. If you are to now divide 11 cities by 3 million premises that = to just over 270,000 premises for each city to make up a total of 3 million.

    The likelihood of someone getting FTTP by Openreach for each city by end of 2020 is smaller given the fact that this 3 million Fibre First programme is divided by 11 cities and if it is not proportionate then that will mean some cities will be left out with hardly any FTTP being deployed.

    If it was 3 million divided by 8 cities like how it was initially then each city will get 375,000 premises with FTTP. But now it will be down to 270,000 which will mean 100,000+ less FTTP premises being deployed.

    1. Avatar Sunil Sood says:

      Have you seen the population sizes of UK cities?

      Many are much lower than people realize and taking into account more than one person living in many households, the number of premises may be a lot less than you imagine..

      http://www.ukcities.co.uk/populations/

    2. Avatar Rahul says:

      @Sunil Sood: Actually you’re right. I completely forgot about that! I forgot to concentrate on the population sizes. In that case there’s a very good chance that some of the smaller cities may almost reach full FTTP coverage.

      However, this statistic list is a little bit outdated. London is now 8.8 million and not 7.2 million. Birmingham is 1.1 million from 992,000. Statistically almost all the major cities are higher in population compared to the populations from your link.

      I can see that the smaller cities will benefit the most with the FTTP coverage. But London with the biggest population will have the least proportion build of FTTP by Openreach. Only positive I see with London is that there are other altnet providers like Hyperoptic, CityFibre, CommunityFibre, etc who will also contribute towards the FTTP expansion. But wayleave barriers will still be a major concern that I’d like to hope that something can be done about that.

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