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Openreach Making Strong Progress on FTTP for New Build Homes

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 (10:04 am) - Score 5,586

Openreach’s (BT) Director of Infrastructure Solutions, Matthew Kirkman, has revealed that they’re now rolling out 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP networks at a rate of 20,000 UK homes passed per week (3x quicker than last year) and 88% of the new build developments they work with are opting for it.

The operator’s “full fibre” network has so far reached 1.2 million premises (here) and that’s almost half-way to their current “Fibre First” target of 3 million premises by the end of 2020 (i.e. March 2021 financial), after which they also have an ambition to reach 10 million premises by around 2025 (provided an agreement can be reached with Ofcom / Government on the details of such a significant investment).

A big chunk of this effort stems from deployments to new build home sites. According to Matthew, around 1 million plots via 14,000 different developers have been contracted with Openreach for “fibre broadband” since February 2016 and 840,000 of those will be delivered using FTTP technology. Furthermore 400,000 of these FTTP deployments are classed as “self-install” (i.e. developer does most of the work rather than Openreach).

The details, which were revealed as part of a presentation given to the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) seminar in Cardiff last week (here), also note that a total of 240,000 plots have been contracted over the past 12 months and 88% of those are now FTTP (11% FTTC and under 1% pure copper).

What’s particularly interesting about all this is how much the situation has changed vs copper based (ADSL / FTTC) broadband technologies over the past few years. The forecast for 2023-24 is now 99% of new sites taking FTTP.

openreach fttp uk new build forecast

One of the biggest reasons for this change will be that Openreach offers all new developments of 30 or more homes the ability get FTTP built for free, while those below 30 homes (between 2 to 29 properties) can also benefit from a significantly discounted install (here).

The sub-30 sites discount was only launched at the end of last year and so far 2,186 sites have registered for it, with 21.6% of related plots contracting for FTTP, 76.4% going with FTTC and just 2% looking at old fashioned pure copper line solutions. The economics for smaller developments are obviously much more challenging (developer makes the technology decision for fibre, not Openreach).

All of this appears to be roughly in keeping with the progress being seen toward full fibre across the wider new build homes market (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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35 Responses
  1. Joe says:

    Well 20k confirms what Andrew had been speculating based on his numbers over at TB. Good to see the confirmation of what we all expected.

    The tragedy of the above figures is ~800k copper lines that went in already let alone the 150k still to come.

  2. alan says:

    still a shambles of a network

    1. GNewton says:

      Agreed. Almost all newly built estates in our area use copper, not fibre. Unfortunately builders still get planning permissions without the requirement of fibre installs.

    2. CarlT says:

      BT could connect your home directly to their supercore over 192 fibre cables and you’d still complain, GN.

      The FTTP network is fine, or will be once the ECI stuff is gone. The Huawei is perfectly sound.

      The complaint about house builders is one to take up with local and national government.

  3. NGA for all says:

    It is unlikely BT got above installing 200 FTTC cabs a week, so this 20,000 premises a week passed is an immense and welcome change.

    1. CarlT says:

      Comparing cabinets installed per week with premises passed by FTTP per week is somewhat strange? Quite different workflows and outcomes?

    2. NGA for all says:

      A little, but in terms of customers passed and costs, it is a remarkable change.

    3. CarlT says:

      Premises passed is probably lower than FTTC, just so much faster that way, each cabinet passing many premises.

      In terms of costs the FTTP is 3-6 times the expense per premises passed.

      Openreach once said 4 times the cost and taking 4 times as long which seems reasonable.

    4. NGA for all says:

      Fag packet was £75 for FTTC passed, so were at £300 for FTTP which was reported. That’s all ok, but it is not taking 4 times as long. I guess more resource is being applied. If what were PSTN engineers are now becoming fibre engineers, the actual incremental costs or new costs should may the case easier. It would be good to understand the dynamic between ‘native’ engineers and contracted for this work.

  4. Phil says:

    So that’s 1,200,000 FTTP premises “passed” with 840,000 being new builds. This means OpenReach have only upgraded 360,000 existing properties with FTTP which isn’t a lot and doesn’t make such good headlines, no wonder they use the total figure on headlines!

    Installing FTTP to new builds is pretty much the same as installing copper, either way a similar amount of work takes place with getting the fibre (or copper) into the site etc. If anything FTTP is much easier as they will likely only need to go back to the nearest aggregation node rather than run new capacity all the way from the telephone exchange for new copper pairs.

    The better indicator of OpenReach progress to converting to being all FTTP is the number of existing properties that are passed with FTTP, which stands at 360,000 according to the figures in this news article, so just another ~26 million to go, and even then that’s not actually connecting those properties to FTTP, it’s just “passing” them, and still leaves a huge amount of work connecting every home up.

    I think we are in danger of congratulating OpenReach for doing not very much at all regarding FTTP. They were always obliged to connect up new properties to their network and using FTTP instead of copper is likely easier for them overall, and these connections should not be used to demonstrate how well the conversion to FTTP is going.

    1. Jim Weir says:

      Think you’ve confused contracted with built.

      New Build FTTP delivered to date is around ~250k out of 1.2M+

    2. Phil says:

      @Jim Weir

      May well be confusing the numbers but taking the news report at face value is says: “A big chunk of this effort stems from deployments to new build home sites. According to Matthew, around 1 million plots via 14,000 different developers have been contracted with Openreach for “fibre broadband” since February 2016 and 840,000 of those will be delivered using FTTP technology. ” So 840,000 is the FTTP amount, out of 1.2 million, that’s how it reads to me.

    3. Jim Weir says:

      The table shows it quite clearly – factor in 19/20 has only just begun

      The FTTP build for new build homes is a small part of the total FTTP coverage, but will keep increasing

    4. CarlT says:

      The numbers are in the chart in the story. The FTTP numbers for 2018-19 and earlier are basically the running total of new build.

      This year is a new build spike but even then new build is less than 4k a week.

      Much of the earlier stuff was BDUK and other state aided projects. Relatively little was entirely commercial whether brownfield or green. Only relatively recently has Openreach commercial build passed state aided, but is leaving it well behind now.

  5. CarlT says:

    These comments sections are such a ray of sunshine sometimes 🙂

    20,000 premises a week is good going and hopefully further acceleration to come. Better late than never.

    1. GNewton says:

      I think you will agree with me that planning permissions for newly to be built estates should always be subject to implementing fibre. This should not be optional as it is now in all too man cases.

    2. 125us says:

      I think mandating fibre would discriminate against Virgin who might well have an HFC network in the vicinity.

    3. Mike says:

      Perhaps there should be a requirement to have some sort of high speed internet, not specifically FTTP though if VM is available.

    4. Joe says:

      In general yes but not every house can get fib nor will provider offer it. Perhaps mandatory if offered free.

    5. Phil says:

      If it’s mostly new builds at 20,000 a week, then BT are just keeping up with new builds deploying FTTP (same sort of work they would have done anyway if it was copper), and making little impact on existing infrastructure.

      My point is, Openreach should not be including new builds FTTP into their headline figures (given they appear to be the majority of the numbers), especially if these figures are banded about in government meetings or similar in order to demonstrate how great Openreach’s progress is towards the UK being all FTTP, as this total number doesn’t tell the real story.

      If we were to know the actual number of FTTP connected customers that aren’t the result of a new build development, it would be a very low number.

    6. CarlT says:

      Mostly new builds? The majority of 20,000 premises a week?

      That would mean building of at least 520,000 properties a year. We aren’t running at half that and haven’t for decades.

      The vast majority now is Fibre First stuff. Prior to that it was new build with some BDUK.

    7. Andrew Ferguson says:

      Remember one must not allow facts or real figures to get in the way of personal opinions these days

  6. Roger_Gooner says:

    If I were a new build homeowner I’d want the option of getting services from either a telco such as BT or Virgin Media. However, developers especially the smaller ones are reluctant to cable for multiple operators as they are not required to do where possible so under the New Building (Amendment) Regulations 2016. What we need is councils making such a requirement from governmental prompting by making a suitable revision to the National Planning Policy Framework.

  7. Ross says:

    BTs figures are all lies. Or they are for New build at least.
    My brother and his new wife have just put down a deposit for a brand new home on an estate which will have Openreach FTTP. The estate only started construction a few months ago and not a single home (unless you include 2 show homes) is fully built yet.

    BT/Openreach claim FTTP is available there though to well over 100 premises of the 250 being built. Id like to know how considering half the estate is not even past installing ground foundations for the properties and the other half is half breeze block shells. Not a single person lives there yet. I doubt it is the first or the last they are making wild claims about.

    1. Jim Weir says:

      “Will have FTTP”

      That is why they talk of contracted premises and then a different number for homes covered by FTTP.

      No one is suggesting Openreach are claiming unbuild homes in their statistics for FTTP coverage to date.

    2. Ross says:

      Except they are claiming its covered already if you input the address into the various BT checkers it says available. The development on TBB maps also shows FTTP as available. There is not even a single home built there yet. Their claims are lies.

    3. TheFacts says:

      Details please.

    4. Jim Weir says:

      Ok what is odd is most new builds don’t get an address or postcode created until they are complete or at least nearly complete.

      Can you share some sample addresses then?

    5. Ross says:

      “Can you share some sample addresses then?”

      No im not going to post were a family member lives (even in part) on a public forum.

      FTTP will be available at the development when it is done, confirmed by BT and in the housing developers brochures. At the moment though it is not, because there are no homes built on it. I do not have to justify myself any further to you or anyone from BT or wants to try to support them by calling me a liar.

    6. TheFacts says:

      @Ross – So the un-built properties have an address and a postcode allocated?

      Do they appear on https://www.royalmail.com/find-a-postcode

    7. Andrew Ferguson says:

      On the two postcodes where some off board extended correspondence took place they are in the Royal Mail database

      I’m most interested in how they know the premises are in the Openreach FTTP built figures, as opposed to the contracted figures, two very different data sets.

      The numbers of both are changing daily, so if being slightly out counts as a lie these days, then anything published by anyone on FTTP is a lie.

      Where a stink needs to be created is a scenario where FTTP was on way for new build, but never appears. Rather than arguments over those flagged as on the way.

  8. TyneA1 says:

    I live on a new estate of 2300 properties in a large UK City. Until last year the builder was selling houses with 2Mbps. The older parts of the estate have Council subsidised FTTC only. The builder would not contribute to FTTC despite having the money for their former CEO’s £75m annual bonus. The newest parts now get FTTP + Virgin Media. VM won’t install to the existing properties as non of the roads have been adopted. I contacted Openreach direct and guess I utilised some un-used FTTP capacity from the newer build. I just feel sorry for my neighbours with 6Mbps. They have to apply for some sort of government voucher scheme to get FTTP installed. This just seems ridiculously complicated. It is difficult when buying a new house to see which services are provided, you assume you will get the best otherwise how do you check. Most ISPs want a postcode, house number, telephone number which you just don’t have. My only complaint is the lack of competition with FTTP, either BT or Zen, I am paying £60/m for 300Mbps but still happy that I am no longer on 6Mbps.

  9. Clare Ross says:

    I guess no more copper engineers like my husband was

    1. Joe says:

      Well they just convert them to fibre engineers! Much of it is plug and play and so needs limited training.

  10. Meadmodj says:

    At least with OR FTTP you will have a better ISP choice longer term. OR are not picking up all new builds and therefore some New Builds may never have an OR presence and may have limited choice going forward.

    The fault for “New Builds” on copper is probably down to the developer. OR have been offering FTTP to all new-build developments of 30 or more homes, free of charge since September 2016. Many were happy to continue with the BT payment per home for each “Telephone Point”. Yes there were time lags on some sites but new houses in 2018/19?

    This is a PR statement and is no different than those from other providers who talk things up. But what should be recognised is that VM and the Altnets are not going for 100% coverage. Only OR is proposing contiguous implementation 100% and hence why it is concerned regarding Government/Ofcom intentions as they carry regulatory burden and may not be able to sustain the level of investment needed if undermined by Altnets who are only targeting a percentage of homes. If the Government wants 100% FTTP (with caveats) then it needs to ensure the commercial environment supports that. That includes OR being able to convert premises from Copper to Fibre where necessary during their rollout and not having to support both and revisit individual consumer premises later. Nor do we want Altnets taking up all the spare duct capacity for say 70% so OR cannot provide for the 30% left out by the Altnet. The current progress is excellent and I hope it continues unrestricted.

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