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Openreach Unveil 29 New UK Areas for FTTP Gigabit Broadband

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 23,710
fttp openreach fibre first rural broadband

Network provider Openreach (BT) has today unveiled the next quarterly batch of 29 new UK rollout locations (total of 103 so far) for their 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP technology, which aims to cover 4 million premises (homes and businesses) by March 2021 and then 15 million by around 2025.

At present the national operator has already deployed their “full fibre” network to cover 1.5 million UK premises and the rollout continues to ramp-up (currently passing 22,000 homes and businesses every week). So far this is said to have been delivered at the “lower end” of their £300 – £400 per premises passed cost range (c.£5.25bn for 15 million) and the expectation is to “pass around 50% of UK premises within this range of costs.”

NOTE: Deployment costs rise disproportionately the further you go outside of lucrative urban areas. Openreach claim those in the final 10% could cost £4K each to pass (here).

The top fastest consumer (residential) focused FTTP tier on their network is 330Mbps (50Mbps upload) and related wholesale prices have recently been reduced (here). On top of that a more affordable 550Mbps and 1000Mbps tier (currently these are only options for business users) is set to be introduced for homes from 23rd March 2020 (here), although we don’t yet know which ISPs will offer these.

Otherwise today’s rollout update adds the following locations: Aberdeen; Ayr; Aughton; Bradford; Billericay; Brentwood; Basingstoke; Brighton; Balham; Chorley Wood; Derby; Hatch End; Lichfield; Molesey; Northampton; Newbury; Norwich; Newcastle (N.I.); Ormskirk; Portrush, Portstewart, Rickmansworth; Royal Tunbridge Wells; Stanecastle; Swindon; Thames Ditton; Tonbridge; Watford and Wickford.

The announcement has, for the first time, also extended Openreach’s published view of its build plans from 12 to 18 months, which has the effect of providing customers, councils and the general public with an “extended roadmap to achieving its target of reaching four million homes and business by the end of March 2021.” As such the next rollout update will focus on the post-March 2021 period (i.e. beyond 4 million premises).

NOTE: Openreach also hope to trial 1Gbps symmetric FTTP for businesses (here).

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said:

“Full-fibre broadband provides a reliable, future-proof, consistent and dependable service that will be a platform for economic growth and prosperity throughout the UK for decades to come.

We’re now building at a massive scale. Every 28 seconds we pass a home or business with our new future-proofed full fibre network. This has given us ever greater confidence in the level and accuracy of whatever we announce – which is why we’ve now laid out our build plans right up to the target delivery date of four million premises by March 2021.

We also want to ensure we give our stakeholders – like council leaders, planners and MPs – the best view of where and when we intend to build so we can work together to build as rapidly as possible and help encourage people to take up the technology when it arrives.”

We should remind readers that this predominantly reflects Openreach’s purely commercial investment, which for the time being is primarily being focused upon the most lucrative urban areas. Separately they’re also still rolling out some FTTP into rural areas via BDUK linked state aid schemes.

All of this will no doubt help the Government to achieve their ambition of deploying “gigabit-capable” broadband networks to cover the whole of the United Kingdom by around 2025 (here), which will of course involve input from many alternative network ISPs and not just Openreach (summary of UK full fibre deployments).

However some of those alternative providers, such as Cityfibre, will no doubt be irritated to see that more of their rival city-wide FTTP deployments are set to suffer overbuild from Openreach (e.g. Aberdeen, Derby and Northampton). On the other hand that’s what you expect in aggressively competitive urban areas, which should be able to sustain several competing networks. Sadly that won’t help the overall goal of maximising coverage.

Openreach has also hinted that they could potentially go beyond 15 million premises in the future (“majority of the UK if the right investment conditions are in place“), although this is unlikely to happen without softer regulation, easier wayleave agreements and an extension to the business rates relief on new fibre (currently in England it only lasts for 5 years – Scotland 10 years – but most FTTP builds plan for investment over 15 years+).

As usual you can check out the fibre first roll-out page on their website, which includes a more detailed exchange level roll-out plan for each of the announced locations (constantly being update). Likewise it’s worth pointing out that a number of ISPs offer FTTP packages based off Openreach’s network and you can check out our recent summary for a better indication (here). The full list of locations announced so far is as follows.

Date of Openreach announcement Town, city or borough
February 2018 1. Birmingham        5. Leeds

2. Bristol                6. Liverpool

3. Cardiff               7. London

4. Edinburgh          8. Manchester

June 2018 9.   Exeter
September 2018 10. The Wirral
October 2018 11. Coventry
November 2018 12. Nottingham
November 2018 13. Belfast
December 2018 14. Swansea
January 2019 15. Bury

16. Barking & Dagenham

17. Bexley

18. Croydon

19. Greater Glasgow

20. Harrow

21. Merton

22. Redbridge

23. Salford

24. Sutton Coldfield

25. Richmond Upon Thames

March 2019 26. Salisbury
April 2019 27. Armagh

28. Bangor

29. Ballymena

30. Greater Belfast

31. Coleraine

32. Derry-Londonderry

33. Enniskillen

34. Lisburn

35. Larne

36. Newry

37. Newtownards

38. Stockport

July 2019 39. Antrim

40. Barry

41. Bathgate

42. Ballyclare

43. Ballymoney

44. Ballynahinch

45. Banbridge

46. Broxburn

47. Broadstairs

48. Bromsgrove

49. Burgh Heath

50. Chelmsford

51. Carrickfergus

52. Cookstown

53. Craigavon

54. Doncaster

55. Downpatrick

56. Dungannon

57. Epsom

58. Ewell

59. Gtr Belfast (Carryduff & Castlereagh)

60. Kilmarnock, E.Ayrshire

61. Limavady

62. Magherafelt

63. Newcastle

64. Omagh

65. Ramsgate

66. Saintfield

67. Strabane

68. St Albans

69. Solihull

70. Slough

71. Sheffield

72. Torquay

73. Whitburn, W. Lothian

74. Worthing

October 2019 75. Aberdeen,

76. Ayr,

77. Aughton,

78. Bradford,

79. Billericay,

80. Brentwood,

81. Basingstoke,

82. Brighton,

83. Balham,

84. Chorley Wood,

85. Derby,

86. Hatch End,

87. Lichfield,

88. Molesey,

89. Northampton

90. Newbury,

91. Newcastle (N.I.)

92. Norwich,

93. Ormskirk,

94. Portrush

95. Portstewart

96. Rickmansworth,

97. Royal Tunbridge Wells,

98. Stanecastle,

99. Swindon,

100. Thames Ditton,

101. Tonbridge

102. Watford

103.Wickford

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Mark Jackson
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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70 Responses
  1. Avatar James Yospos

    STILL nothing in the G41 postcode of Glasgow planned. We get no Virgin, no FTTP and poor FTTC. Very frustrating

  2. Avatar Matt

    Same here. In Cannock Staffs we have crappy FTTC that has slowed down by 1/3rd speeds and BT say there’s no fault. No Virgin, but it’s in towns all around us. They are getting GFast currently in the towns with Virgin, obviously so BT can try and compete yet we get nothing as we can only get BT they have no interest in upgrading us.

    • Avatar Fastman

      interesting

      Same here. In Cannock Staffs we have crappy FTTC that has slowed down by 1/3rd speeds and BT say there’s no fault.

      who paid to provide FTTC ?

      that might be contention or cross talk if there are lots of subcribers

      if you have not been upgraded for anything you would still only have ADSL

    • Avatar Mike

      Are you both using BT as your ISP ?

    • Avatar Darren

      Have you checked if Airband are in your area Matt – I know they’re rolling it out across Shropshire and a few other areas. We’ve just told Plusnet where to shove their 3Mbps as we’ve just changed to Airband and are getting 40-50mbps speeds! All it took was a small box attached to our house facing Clee Hill. The speeds are phenomenal – we watched Hotel Transylvania today on Netflix in actual HD for once!!! It was like omg it’s HD – and finally we’re able to watch Wreck It Ralph 2 in 4K (I bought it on Amazon in 4K but never been able to see it in 4K till now!).

  3. Avatar A_Builder

    Or more positively more good news from OR?

    Fibre First is a good thing.

    Very good new OR are trialing a symmetrical FTTP option that will sell like hot cakes to business parks.

    While OR don’t want to lose leased line revenue the reality is that they have leased fibre already positioned and in some cases old unlit fibres they can repurpose to make FTTP to the business parks reality.

    Otherwise it will be the MDU story all over again – OR have lost a lot of MDU’s to Hyper CF etc by being slow.

    • Avatar Ferrocene Cloud

      While FTTP will compete to an extent with leased lines, savvy customers will look at all aspects of the product instead of jumping on the cheaper service instantly. I’ve seen businesses take out the DSL option because it’s cheaper, have to wait days for the line to be fixed, and then complain endlessly about how much money they’re losing. Too bad, go and pay for a proper product next time. Or businesses will complain because their “1 Gbps fibre” is only giving them 500Mbps because of heavy usage on the node during peak hours.

      Unless the FTTP is impacted by the same fibre break, we all know where OR will prioritise the splicing team. And businesses will eventually learn the hard way why they should go for a leased line for critical connectivity.

  4. Avatar FibreBob

    Do give OR a bit of a break… especially when they announce (and hopefully carry out) fibre expansion.

    If they squander resource on farcical items like GFast then do give them the contempt they deserve.

    Credit where credit’s due.

    • Avatar Darren Forster

      Give OR a break – roflmao – Open Reach have been doing so little to create a fibre network across the UK – if we’d built the UK phone network the way they’re upgrading it to fibre half the UK would still be waiting for a phone line. Constantly upgrading lines where they’ve got competition but not bothering where there is no competition – I suppose if you’ve got the monopoly on an area why bother? Thankfully though now with things like microwave connections and 5G coming along things are changing and internet without the need to rely on OR’s ducts will become more and more common place.

  5. Avatar F. strated

    WA3 post code would be happy if we got 20Mps in the area…!

  6. Avatar Chris

    Does Fibre First typical provide 100% coverage of all properties connected to a FF exchange?

    • Avatar GNewton

      No, it doesn’t. Quite often it’s only some easy to upgrade estates.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      Hmme

      That is not necessarily true.

      In areas where they can get close to 80% then they are doing the difficult stuff as well.

      This is necessary so OR can get to copper switch off.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @A_Builder: There are places or estates where BT is currently upgrading to FTTP which aren’t listed in their announcements. I know of at least one council housing estate in a nearby town where BT has recently upgraded from FTTC to FTTP, though I expect to uptake to be on the lower end.

    • Avatar CarlT

      https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fibre-first#fibrefirstlocations

      The above maps show Openreach’s FTTP Fibre First Towns, Cities and Boroughs Build Programme on a 3 months forward looking basis, which is related to the current announced 4 million premises Fibre First Programme . It does not show FTTP deployment related to BDUK, new sites, and other small scale infill.

    • Avatar Fastman

      @A_Builder: There are places or estates where BT is currently upgrading to FTTP which aren’t listed in their announcements. I know of at least one council housing estate in a nearby town where BT has recently upgraded from FTTC to FTTP, though I expect to uptake to be on the lower end.

      interesting funded by BDUK, Communty or someone else ?

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Fastman: “interesting funded by BDUK, Communty or someone else ?”

      Commercially funded by BT. I personally talked to the BT engineers. Whole roads were dug up to put fibre to each council house or flat.

  7. Avatar Optimist

    At last a competitor to Virgin Media in Norwich!

  8. Avatar Ste

    At last, Openreach have jumped in as the virgin media roll-out in my area stalled over 12 months ago. Does anyone have any idea how long it takes between announcement and work starting? On the Openreach’s page it states my area is due to commence in the next 3 months and clearly the plan is that it will be done by March 21

    • Avatar JamesP

      I’m near the Broadstairs and Ramsgate build areas (unfortunately I’m not on these exchanges) and these were announced in July, but there’s no evidence of any progress as yet. Can imagine that there’s probably a fair bit of background work to be carried out before we start seeing fibre cables being laid out.

      I’d be interested to know how long it takes for Openreach to complete an area myself. Virgin who are doing work here appear to be taking forever! Should be quicker for Openreach as there’s less need to dig up roads/pathways for cabling – if the ducts are clear then it shouldn’t take too long to cable up a street.

    • Avatar David Thomas

      I’m in Bearsden where Fibre First was announced at the end of January. We’re now in October and the build is still ongoing.

    • Avatar David Thomas

      Holy smokes, the Bearsden fibre is live!

    • Avatar ltaylor

      I am in the same boat as JamesP living in Ramsgate. I am at the end of a mile of aluminium wire to the nearest cabinet so FTC has been pretty ropey. I did happen to notice some OR “engineers” poking around in the underground chamber that connects the 5 properties in my close a week ago. So it seems they are up to something, but would love to know when I can actually order fibre.

    • Avatar Graham

      Still nothing in Bearsden, Greater Glasgow still shows build in progress and no Ultrafast available.

  9. Avatar Ixel

    Both good and not so good news.

    It’s great that they appear to be expanding further, although the coverage of the actual cities remains to be seen, but they clearly have a long way to go. I’m about 30-45 minutes drive from Brighton, although a slightly puzzling choice as I believe some parts of Brighton already have Virgin Media and G.fast? Might be wrong, if I am then I stand corrected.

    I wonder if we can expect another reveal of upcoming planned cities in a few months from now.

  10. Avatar Alan Hird

    Just had City Fibre dig up the street (Aberdeen) to lay fibre optic cables now Open Reach to do same!
    What a waste of money and resources
    How about a share?

  11. Avatar CarlT

    Good. However, from a purely selfish point of view it’d be great if they could cover more of the cities they’ve announced. I’m also lost as to why they aren’t at very least building out ‘donuts’ of FTTP around cabinets they’ve blessed with G.fast to cover the premises that aren’t close enough to the DSLAM.

    Norwich is interesting. I look forward to seeing whether they are serious about this or it’ll just be an infill around those cabinets that don’t have G.fast. They have deployed a fair bit of it there. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were extensively overbuilt, Morley was mid-way through G.fast before they overbuilt it, but we’ll see.

    Regarding the smaller scale infill they aren’t joking there – the exchange I’m currently served by has about 10% coverage of FTTP, most of the rest is either G.fast or no ultrafast from Openreach at all. It was mentioned in their literature but has been removed from it as an unwanted G.fast child 🙂

    • Avatar CarlT

      Of course I should remember that Pudsey, Leeds, was a G.fast pilot exchange. It’s currently receiving Fibre First FTTP build.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @CarlT

      “’m also lost as to why they aren’t at very least building out ‘donuts’ of FTTP around cabinets they’ve blessed with G.fast to cover the premises that aren’t close enough to the DSLAM”

      Ah multi purpose backhaul – can’t do that – that would make sense….errrr……oh hang on we are business and need to stop bleeding customers to VM…….

      TBH they could just rip out the GFast pod and use the links that are there for a PON. I’ll bet there are some totally unused Gfast pods on the network given how poor take up is.

  12. Avatar Andy M

    Bedford overlooked again
    G.fast cancelled from the rollout too.
    80/20 it is then for the foreseeable future then.

    • Avatar Craig

      I know what you mean! Sheffield and Doncaster and Leeds all sorted – Barnsley still on FTTC and poor at that!

  13. Avatar .

    The fibre first maps appear to no longer show the purple ‘in progress’ shading?

  14. Avatar .

    Oops, stand down, purple shading is now back…

  15. Avatar ians

    I love how my massive estate is being missed off the edge of this but they are running cables around us. I mean, why bother getting fibre into an area first when you can overbuild on the virgin areas first?

    Competitors + competition for customers = lower ROI

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @ians

      Not necessarily.

      Can also mean established market where people are used to buying that sort of bandwidth.

      It is one of those strange marketing things that marketing into a non established market can be harder than marketing into an established market even if want/need is there.

      Although I very much doubt that has anything to do with it. It is probably down to survey data based on costs per premises.

      OR are trying to show a low cost per premises in the initial stages of the rollout – which is logical(ish) [makes sense to City folks] but it is a reductionist argument not an end to end logic.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Not really ians. A Virgin customer gives Openreach £0 revenue. An Openreach customer delivers line rental and, probably, superfast broadband on top.

      Rather than absolute revenue think incremental. Someone on 80/20 FTTC moving up FTTP brings Openreach nothing.

    • Avatar CJ

      Which is why I’ll disconnect my 1km FTTC line as soon as 5G arrives in my area, and why people who want a faster Openreach connection should consider moving to Virgin in the meantime if it’s available.

      You’ve got to get your Openreach revenue down to zero, to give them any real incentive to invest in upgrading your area.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @CarlT

      “Rather than absolute revenue think incremental. Someone on 80/20 FTTC moving up FTTP brings Openreach nothing.”

      Except the reduced cost of maintaining FTTP over copper?

      @Ians

      “Which is why I’ll disconnect my 1km FTTC line as soon as 5G”

      I am sure that 5G when nobody is using it will be great if you are close and have line of sight to the mast.

      I had an interesting experience running a branch office of 4G when our two FTTC lines went down. You could probably hit the 4G mast with a tennis ball from the office window. Throughput was all over the place and you could not compare the two things all. Now OK our copper lines are about 150m long so our FTTC was very good before we got rid of it.

      I should not over hype the use of 4G and nobody really knows how good 5G will be when saturated. And added to that there will be incremental improvements to the 5G tach so the initial tech and final tach won’t be that comparable.

    • Avatar CJ

      @A_Builder I agree on 4G which is why I’m waiting for 5G before ditching my long FTTC line.

      At 6am on a Saturday morning I can get 120Mbps+ from 4G and if it stayed like that 24/7 I’d ditch the landline now, but it drops below 10Mbps at peak times and it‘s getting worse.

    • Avatar Bob H

      Given that 4G is already theoretically is capable of gigabit speed, the the only thing that 5G really deals with is congestion. Two parts on congestion are the number of people on the cell *and* the bandwidth they’re consuming. If you get <150Mbps off-peak then you're not congested, the phone company just hasn't built out the infrastructure necessary.
      I know that when I am out and about I get bugger all bandwidth on 4G on multiple networks, so I have no faith in the operators delivering anything with 5G other than higher ARPU.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      5G is effectively a hybrid technology.

      As ever some frequencies travel poorly over distance and through objects. Nothing changes physics.

      At long range I don’t think 5G will perform a lot better than 4G except for the number of users it can support.

  16. Avatar Jamie Simms

    It’s good news that Openreach have committed to all these new areas but there does seem a lot over overbuild against Cityfibre/Vodafone and Gigaclear too.

    I do wonder why Leicester has been missed off that list as it has no major FTTP provider and Virgin Media is already overwhelmed with traffic seems strange commercial decision unless it is technical

    • Avatar Matthew

      I believe that CityFibre has announced they are going be building in Leicester

    • Avatar ChrisC

      Cityfibre are already live in Leic’s but of course its business only services. Vodafone will be expanding it for residential coverage at a unknown date. However given their backhaul issues, lack of ipv6, and required use of CPE its not the desired solution.

    • Avatar Tony

      I was wondering this too and how there’s no cable in Oadby when it’s such a populate area. Annoying to say the least.
      but, good news, 5G is coming to town by the end of this year from three different networks and they’re promising speeds higher than cable anyway!
      Looking forward to that but am keeping an open mind regarding signal strength and contention ratios if they get quickly over subscribed.

  17. Avatar ChrisC

    Every City/Town surrounding Leic’s in plans but not Leic’s itself, if only I still had a MP on BT’s board to fix it. Which is what was needed to get the city VDSL.

  18. Avatar Dave P

    so we are in watford, is there. way to find out if we will get FTTP? when I check OR website it says we have no plans to cover the area, directly going against what is posted above.

    would be great to get FTTP in ad ready for march when gigabit goes live.

  19. Avatar John

    Where is Sheffield in all this… no FTTP just plain slow FTTC

  20. Avatar Gary

    Interesting and finally (Punching the air) my area is being lit for faster broadband. 20Mbps these days simply does not cut it with 4 adults in the house. I look forward to some fast broadband in the next couple of months hopefully.

  21. Avatar Martin E

    Openreach have the ultimate get out statement on the Fibre First webpage

    https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fibre-first#fibrefirstlocations

    “*Programme Build Complete refers to the exchanges where build has been largely completed as part of the FTTP Fibre First Towns, Cities and Boroughs Build Programme, but does not mean that services will be available from this date. ”

    The reality is that 20 months after the announcement there is still no service in “Programme Build Complete” areas, even in those places where they have long since strung fibres over poles, dug numerous trenches, cleared numerous duct blockages and more to the point where there is zero existing FTTC coverage – despite other cabinets totally surrounding the ‘not-spots’ both further and closer the exchange being ‘upgraded’ to FTTC nearly eight years ago

    • Avatar CarlT

      Not accurate, Martin.

      Sounds like you specifically don’t have coverage but plenty of areas in that build complete column do.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Name the exchange area otherwise I call this out as someone trolling.

      Why? Fibre First programme was first announced to public in April 2018, so it cannot be 20 months since any of the exchanges were announced as complete.

  22. Avatar vivian burrows

    Openreach are in the process of providing us with FTTP in Basingstoke, it has taken 6 months so far, 2 months of that to sort a blockage in a 17 metre length.
    I am hopeful once they complete these civils tasks and they complete the next task to cable from the old section of the exchange to the new that we should be up and running next month. That is 7 months for one install, how do they expect to complete Basingstoke in the next 2 years when one property takes up most of that

    • Avatar CarlT

      Relatively easily. By throwing a lot more resources at it than they do a single FoD installation, much as they have elsewhere in the country.

  23. Avatar Ste

    Bizarrely my local area has been removed from the openreach roll out map today (it was there yesterday) although the openreach press release does confirm the roll out.

    • Avatar Tom J

      Mine had the same, but appeared back again today (Bromsgrove) – its not showing as purple in progress 😀

  24. Avatar Pete

    I live in Midlothian and there has been nothing at all out this way, even Edinburgh which was early on in 2018 has only 25% of the city covered with another 30-35% under build currently with nothing for anywhere else in the city.

    My 80/20 package with iDNET is now at 52/15 and continues to drop every month from the height of 69/19 when I took out the package at the start…

    I can saturate that link with one 4kYT and some surfing on another PC in the house, its crap like and I cant see me getting anything better for at least 5+ years at the rate the suppliers are spreading :/

    They should have clubbed together and shared massive fiber cable bundles installed to all houses much like ISP can use Openreach. Lets face it a smaller amount of customers care about the delivery method, its mostly about the price, product and its feature a ISP gives you.

    /sigh

  25. Avatar Optical

    Nothing for the BA2 postcode of Bath planned.Still no Virgin here,despite large areas of Bath already done,& no FTTP & lousy FTTC,most frustrating.

  26. Avatar Jake

    Disgusting to see places like Swindon who already have Virgin Media, Relish, AND FTTC and theyre getting FTTP as well?

    Some places have NOTHING yet? Why is that? Something is very very corrupt in the decision making logic here.

    OFCOM need to intervene here to understand why most town have nothing yet this town is awarded EVERYTHING. Very very corrupt.

  27. Avatar Alan Hird

    Will prob migrate to City Fibre (Vodafone) Cheaper than BT

  28. Avatar John

    BT/openreach should be fined for 10 billion pounds, they slowed the UK whole county internet connection speed for more than 10 years.
    It is a crime.
    the only reason they want to speed up with FTTP: they found there are some competition is coming, they don’t want to lose money, what selfish!

  29. Avatar David MacLeod

    Agree with a lot of your comments, seems like I’m not the only one with the issues with Openreach.
    I’ve been chasing up fibre progress with openreach for quite some while, only to find out after doing a bit of digging myself, that half of our street have FTTP capabilities whilst the other half (myself included) are not in the plans to upgrade, and have you thought about community funding nonsense!!! This actually took openreach more than 2 weeks to reply to, it’s an absolute joke of a company and they should be held accountable for their idiotic decisions.

  30. Avatar Jay

    I’m only seeing BT as providers for superfast broadband in the Bearsden are (G61) when will it be available to other mainstream providers?!

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