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Openreach’s FTTP Broadband Build Hits 2 Million UK Premises

Friday, December 20th, 2019 (11:40 am) - Score 4,669

Network access provider Openreach (BT) has revealed that their roll-out of Gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP technology has just gone past the key milestone of 2 million premises passed, which is half way to their current goal of 4 million UK homes and businesses by March 2021.

At present the operator is building at a pace of around 24,000 premises per week and they recently forecast that this could reach 30,000 per week when they exit the 2019/20 period. So far this is all being delivered at the “lower end” of their £300 – £400 per premises passed cost range and they expect to “pass around 50% of UK premises within this range of costs.”

So far this predominantly reflects Openreach’s purely commercial investment, which for the time being is primarily focused upon the most lucrative urban areas. Separately they’re also still rolling out some FTTP into rural areas via existing Building Digital UK (BDUK) linked state aid schemes.

Going forwards the operator has an ambition to cover 15 million premises by around 2025 – likely to cost upwards of £5.1bn (based on the above figures) – and they’ve suggested that it might then be possible to reach the “majority” of the United Kingdom, albeit only provided the conditions are right (e.g. extend the 5 years business rates relief on new fibre, easier wayleave agreements, protection for their investment etc.).

NOTE: The Government’s ambition of deploying “gigabit-capable” broadband networks to cover the whole of the UK by around 2025 (here), which is funded by an extra £5bn of public investment, may in the future play a role in helping Openreach go beyond 15 million premises.

Suffice to say that hitting the 2 million milestone helps to highlight just how quickly Openreach are now building and the rollout looks set to get even faster. As it stands the operator has already set out their deployment plan for that first 4 million homes and businesses (here), but the next 11 million won’t be set in stone until Ofcom and the Government finalise their future approach to regulation and policy.

An Openreach spokesperson said:

“This week we made full fibre broadband available to our two-millionth home, meaning we’re still on track to reach four million front doors by the end of March 2021.

At the same time, there are still more than 14 million homes and businesses in the UK that could order a better service over our network today, but who haven’t yet upgraded. That means they could be missing out on better connections that would allow them to work from home, stream entertainment, and manage their smart home devices without any interruptions.

We’d encourage people to check our online fibre checker (www.openreach.co.uk/fibrecheckerpr) and discover what might be on offer in their area.”

We should point out that residential consumers can currently take a top FTTP speed tier of 330Mbps (50Mbps upload) from Openreach, although the operator intends to launch a new 550Mbps (75Mbps upload) and 1000Mbps (115Mbps) tier for residential users from 23rd March 2020 (here); as well as a refresh of some existing tiers.

However, it remains to be seen which UK ISPs will actually offer these tiers, although it’s probably a fairly safe bet to say that BT will most likely be among the early adopters and TalkTalk are testing them. Check out our related summary of FTTP ISP choices on Openreach’s network (here). Take note that Sky Broadband and TalkTalk are imminently expected to join this list.

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

Readers may also wish to check out the fibre first roll-out page on OR’s website, which includes a more detailed exchange level roll-out plan for each of the announced locations so far (this is constantly being update). One final point to make is that a small proportion of today’s 2 million premises won’t yet be ready for orders (i.e. the physical build is complete but some other bits have yet to complete), but this doesn’t usually take long.

Leave a Comment
50 Responses
  1. Avatar Granola

    How many premises are there in the UK ? (Call it X)

    X -2 million covered already = Y

    Y divided by 30,000 covered in a week = How Long ?

    How do you find how many premises there are in the UK ?

    • Avatar CarlT

      Wouldn’t bother. Openreach have no interest in going beyond 50% at the moment and the remaining 50% will take significantly longer, especially the last 10%.

      Current run rate meaningless as far as 100% coverage goes.

    • There are around 29 million homes in the UK but remember that Openreach aren’t the only one building. On top of that nobody quite knows how to weight the impact of overbuild yet.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Already report this figure at least once a month

    • Avatar Granola

      Well to get to 50% you have to know what 100% is, but they use the word premises not homes, so do we add business premises to 29 million ?
      50% is aleady 8.5 years away just including homes.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      There is a whole appendix explaining how Ofcom count premises.

      I publish a monthly summary of what I track at https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8616-november-2019-update-on-broadband-availability-across-the-uk-nations-and-regions and that is premises, as in residential and business combined

      50% is more than 8 years away at recent build rates 2031 for 50% is my projection, but it is improving as the build rates increase.

    • Predicting how long it will take by only using the existing build rate is fairly pointless.

      We need to know how much each operator will ramp up, where they will peak and how they will ramp down. We also need to weight for overbuild as that doesn’t benefit overall coverage, which again is very difficult without knowing what each operator will actually deliver, and where, over the next decade.

      At least with Openreach, Virgin Media and Cityfibre there’s some indication for these to play with over the next 2-4 years – albeit not specific enough – but the other altnets are more of a problem (too many over optimistic forecasts, not enough reality).

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      I run three rates

      3 months, 6 months and 12 months, so if rates are increasing the 3 month figure should be a lot closer than the 12 month figure for example.

      The two big builds are Openreach and Virgin Media, accounting for well over half of the FTTP each month.

  2. Avatar CarlT

    Excellent news. FTTP rocks.

  3. Avatar AnotherTim

    Good progress by BT. A very long way to go before the majority get FTTP – although I’d like to see more emphasis on tackling EO lines (whether rural or urban) as I suspect a lot of those will be in the final 10% rather than the first 50%.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      In the fibre first areas eo is often tackled. Problem is all those posting online never live in those areas

    • Avatar A_Builder

      As @AF says EO is being done in the areas being blanketed with FTTP now.

      I’m aware of a few people who have gone from ADSL -> FTTP directly now. And this is the right solution.

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      That’s very true. My area will never be a fibre first area. I know that commercially they are trying to cover as many premises as quickly and cheaply as possible so that means urban areas, but that excludes most of those that need something better than ADSL.

  4. Avatar rw

    it would be interesting to see the BDUK scope of FTTP as my street in Berkshire has been half connected and now the rest is being left as their speed indicator says above 24mb even though 20 is max in reality even confirmed by their own engineer so the council have withheld the funding to complete.

    • Avatar chris conder

      yes RW, that is how the superfarce works. I can feel your pain.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @tw
      Without punctuation and grammar it’s not 100% clear what point you’re trying to make. Making some assumptions, it appears that the council is restricting deployment to certain premises, something it is entitled to do for any areas where it is subsidising the build.

      I suggest that you reach out to the council project team and/or your local councillors to see if there is any flexibility in this. If not, you may wish to consider part-funding yourself, along with your neighbours, assuming that they share your frustration.

  5. Avatar chris conder

    Homes passed is part of the superfarce. I can see coiled up OR fibre still dangling from poles in villages round here and it has been like that for 4 years. The fibre is not to the houses at all. It went right past them. Passed. Passed. Duff stats. What would be interesting is how many houses/businesses are connected to fibre.

    • Avatar Mike

      Can you actually order it though?

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      And if the providers report those figures then we would know, and guess what the biggest ones do, and others it can be estimated.

      So only a farce if you shout so loudly that you don’t pay attention to those pointing out the numbers do exist.

      NOTE: Premises passed means there is a connector available to plug in the property when people decide to pay. If does not count if the fibre is merely passing that property on its way to others a mile down the road.

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      Andrew, does premises passed include pots where micro-ducting is in place, but the fibre isn’t actually blown from the cabinet until an order is placed – the way GigaClear are doing it now?

    • Avatar NE555

      > does premises passed include pots where micro-ducting is in place, but the fibre isn’t actually blown from the cabinet until an order is placed

      Yes it does. It means “premises where service can be ordered right now”. You place your order, and an engineer turns up to connect you, whatever that involves.

      Same applies to Openreach: they will have brought fibre to a CBT outside a group of houses or on a pole, and that counts as “passed” for all properties served from that point. When you order, they’ll pull the final bit of fibre through the duct to your house, or install an aerial drop from your pole.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Nice bit of trolling.

    • Avatar Oggy

      I tried to order B4RN.

      They said no.

      Superfarce!

    • Avatar MartinConf

      @chris conder

      Happy for you to give us the magical numbers for B4RN?

      1) Properties passed
      2) Properties connected

    • Avatar The Facts

      And full accounts for B4RN.

    • Avatar Gadget

      So MartinConf, how do B4RN officially count premises passed?

    • Avatar MartinConf

      @Gadget

      In the same way as Openreach, any property that can order the service.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Thanks MartinConf, just what I thought, contrary to your supporter’s initial comments.

    • Avatar MartinConf

      @Gadget

      “contrary to your supporter’s initial comments”

      Whos supporter’s? I’m nothing to do with B4RN and haven’t a clue what you’re talking about!!

    • Avatar Gadget

      @MartinConf – if you are nothing to do with B4RN then you posting an explanation of how they count premises past can only be a supposition, rather than a fact. I agree that is how virtually the whole of the population view a premises past statement, except for the OP and perhaps a handful of others.

  6. Avatar A_Builder

    Great new.

    Commercial FTTP rocks.

    Look forward to seeing an increasing number of people migrated onto full fibre from hybrid and the savings in fault finding ploughed back into getting some of the more challenging EoL copper lines changed to fibre – virtuous circle – resources redeployed from fixing old rubbish to building new state of the art FTTP so at some tipping point the net investment into the biz is constant. This makes commercial sense at the asset has ongoing long term value and the maintenance costs of the asset are reduced by the investment.

    Yes the last bit will takes ages but once it is at 50% the evidence of the savings will be so compelling that OR will continue to build.

    Lets not forget the voucher schemes and hope that get topped up to keep things rolling in the not-quite-commercial areas.

    There is a lot of good work being done now by many organisations.

    The challenge is in breaking down barriers out of the way and making sure things keep rolling.

  7. Avatar Duncan

    It’s frustrating how my area was chosen for the now pretty much abandoned g-fast pods. There’s one on my local box but it’s useless at reaching me!

    I’m guessing these locations will probably be considered much further down the line in terms of fttp?

    My only current hope is one of the smaller ventures like Liberty or Trooli. Virgin was interested under Project Lightning, but backed out last minute for some reason.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      There is no relationship between having GFast and the timing of FTTP.

      GFast is being overbuilt all over the place with FTTP.

      The issue is does your area have uptake density and reasonable infrastructure in place to make it viable to commercially upgrade.

      Ironically the fact that it was on the GFast map at all is an indicator that the predicted upgrade density is there.

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      And conversely those areas that have received no upgrades have proven themselves as unsuitable for commercial investment, so will be dependent on state aid (BDUK or successor) for any upgrades in the future. With the ambition of Gigabit available everywhere by 2025 (which won’t happen) even the state sponsored builds are bound to concentrate on getting the most connections possible in the time – which will rule out the rural areas.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      Maybe.

      The other issue is EoL infrastructure.

      Where the man days of engineering cost of patching up rubbish have to be taken into account. That changes the dynamic of decision making as OR still have an obligation to provide a line.

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      I don’t think the obligation to provide a line will be a problem. Several of my neighbours no longer have a land line. Some no longer use the internet apart from on their mobile phone. Some others use 4G routers – I’ll be dropping EO line in a couple of weeks when I’ve migrated the phone number to VoIP. 4G here is faster than ADSL (especially for upload) but still isn’t “superfast”. I think the EO line problem from BT’s perspective will go away – but we’ll still be stuck with slow 4G broadband instead of slow ADSL broadband.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      That is an interesting perspective.

      The key thing is symmetry becoming part of USO.

      30/30 enables quite a lot of useful online work.

      30/1 doesn’t really enable l.

      Focus needs to move away from sats dominated by movie downloads to underlying usage.

    • Avatar CarlT

      ‘I’m guessing these locations will probably be considered much further down the line in terms of fttp?’

      Nope. I fully expect to see donuts of FTTP around the G.fast coverage sooner rather than later.

    • Avatar CarlT

      In fact the G.fast pod on the cabinet serving me was made live 4 months ago and Openreach now show FTTP on the way.

  8. Avatar Ryan Arbuckle

    Lots of it popping up here in L/Derry!!

  9. Avatar Steve

    Don’t talk to me about open reach tried in August to go with bt waited 6 weeks to get connected gave up permissions were done connections were done fibre bit never been with bt so no phone line open reach kept turning up with appointments so cancelled the jobs, tried again December still waiting 5 weeks now more problems even though all services were done last time around and there still finding problems absolute joke for a a company really are might have to back to virgin again as we were with them for 18 years!!!!!!

  10. Avatar GNewton

    This is a very poor figure, only shows that this country still is hopelessly behind. By now, the vast majority should be able to order fibre broadband, not just a tiny fraction. Nothing to be proud of!

    • Avatar CarlT

      Merry Christmas. Thank you for brightening up the comments as always.

    • Avatar Bob Smith

      Maybe if you didn’t vote Thatcher in all those years ago, fibre would have been in every home 20 years ago 😉

    • Avatar The Facts

      And how many companies have code powers and could have installed FTTP over the last 30 years?

    • Avatar Mike

      BT recognized a long time ago that FTTP was necessary, they wanted to replace the old network with fibre starting in 1990 like Japan/Korea did and Thatcher vetoed it.

  11. Avatar GNewton

    Nobody has prevented BT from doing fibre for quite a number of years now. Digging up ancient Thatcher history is a lame excuse for this “Can’t do” culture of BT and its admirers.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @GN – if we were to go back 10 years how would LLU have been handled with FTTP rollouts? A time before 4k streaming etc.

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