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Openreach to Hit Quarterly UK FTTP Broadband Build Rate of 1m Premises

Thursday, Jan 11th, 2024 (2:01 am) - Score 5,200
fttp testing node openreach

Openreach (BT) are expecting to reach a record peak quarterly build rate on their new gigabit speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network of 1 million premises passed in Q4 FY24 (i.e. end of March 2024), which is up from the 860K seen in Q2 (Sept 2023). Commercial build costs are also said to still be below £300 per premises.

The latest forecast marks a welcome return to their original trajectory, particularly after the operator suffered a notable build slowdown through the first half of 2023, which came after they adjusted their deployment plan to focus on making cost savings at the end of 2022 (here).

NOTE: Openreach is currently investing up to £15bn to reach 25 million premises by December 2026 (80%+ of the UK) – 6.2m of those are in rural and semi-rural areas (here). But they also hold an aspiration to reach up to 25-30m premises by 2030.

The rollout has so far already covered well over 12.5 million UK premises (inc. 3.6m homes in the hardest to reach rural areas) and is currently running at a build rate of over 60,000 premises per week. Some 4.2 million customers have also adopted the service via various partner ISPs (35k new orders every week), which gives the operator a strong take-up rate of 33% and rising.

The forecast suggests that Openreach expects to add a total of 3.5 million premises to their FTTP coverage across the 2024 financial year, which they predict will rise to 4 million in FY25. The per premises build costs are expected to stay within their £250 to £350 model for at least this period / next two years (currently it’s below £300). Interestingly, it’s noted that the provisioning unit cost of a new FTTP install (e.g. to your home) is also c. £300.

Openreach-FTTP-Build-Rate-and-Takeup-Comparison-2024

Admittedly, it’s not all good news, with the BT Group recently reporting (here) that Openreach’s total broadband lines (copper and fibre) had declined from 21.457 million in FY23 H2 to 21.202m in FY24 H1, as rivals take a bite out of their base (mostly from their copper lines). But the latest forecast also noted that Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) has grown 8.8% year-on-year in H1 2024, which is offsetting the line losses (note: FTTP is delivering an ARPU of £16.86 per month, vs £15.61 on FTTC and £9.5 on ADSL).

The latest data includes some other useful statistics, such as the fact that they’re now seeing 62% migration of lines to FTTP within 3 years of the new network going live (a faster take-up rate than they expected) or 50% within just 20 months. Churn on FTTP is also roughly half what it is on their older hybrid fibre FTTC lines of equivalent age – after 36-months churn on FTTC is c.12%, while on FTTP it’s 6%. The following chart also shows how rapidly take-up grows depending on how long the network has been present and live.

Openreach-FTTP-Build-Takeup-by-Age

In addition, 29% of orders take their fastest broadband tiers (500Mbps+) and FTTP fault rates are, on average, coming in 60% lower than on “copper broadband” lines (unclear if this also factors FTTC). FTTP also suffered from significantly fewer faults than “copper broadband” during recent storm periods. The storm related increase in fault reports on copper broadband lines was c.10%, while on FTTP it was less than 1%.

Finally, Openreach reaffirmed their intention to “continue building post December 2026 – right across the UK“, although it remains unclear exactly how far beyond the 25 million mark they will actually go (they’ve only said 25-30m, which is quite a wide margin). We strongly suspect they may wait until after Ofcom’s next market review to confirm.

On the other hand, Openreach has said that their capital expenditure will reduce by at least £1bn per annum after December 2026, while at the same time their “build pace will reduce to c.1m premises passed per annum” in this same period. In that sense, it seems reasonable to predict that they’ll deliver c.26m premises passed by FTTP by the end of 2027 (high confidence) and possibly 28-29m by 2030 (roughly mirroring their FTTC footprint).

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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36 Responses
  1. Avatar photo CD says:

    I know it should have started sooner, but those are quite incredible numbers.
    Anyone with a European context on build rates elsewhere? 1M a quarter seems huge

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      France and Spain were also rapid but have slowed as builds are more advanced.

      Really difficult to do a fair comparison but I think Openreach are going at a similar place to our peers during their peak periods.

    2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      They have the money and infrastructure to do it, they have been the monopoly for years in the telecom side and internet. It is only recently that they have been getting proper competition.

      they do have a advantage over alt networks, for a start there is a lot of people already on Openreach network via FTTC, so a lot of these people will be scared to leave the provider they are with and go for FTTP with the same provider.

      My brother-in-law is one, don’t want to leave EE, so when he does decide to change to FTTP, when ever that is, I expect he will stay with EE.

    3. Avatar photo Carlconradw says:

      Deutsche Telekom was at a similar stage of deployment to OpenReach – and has a similar ambition to pass 25-30m homes, despite Germany having a larger population. . It planned to pass between 2.5 million and three million homes in 2023. So slower as a proportion of population. Despite the much vaunted German efficiency lots of their other infrastructure has lacked investment for years owing to Germany’s self inflicted borrowing limits

    4. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Germany is way more expensive than the UK to build full fibre to. DT are looking at a thousand Euros per premises outside of metropolitan areas.

    5. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      I understand the Germans don’t have kit mounted on the building external wall and have a frontage tee kind of arrangement on directly buried tubes.

  2. Avatar photo Declan M says:

    No surprise there that Openreach is at near enough half cost per premise compared to VMO2 or City Fibre when Openreach is putting up unsightly telephone poles and fibre cables dangling all over the place! In my street they’ve put a pole up in the middle of my street with cables that feed 5 poles in the next street down and up, no surprise they’re near enough at half the cost!

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Cityfibre also install their own poles. Both use Openreach poles and ducts.

      Their costs are higher as they’re also digging their own metro networks while Openreach already have them.

      Compare Openreach to an efficient altnet for a better comparison of costs, however no-one can do it at the cost Openreach can due to scale and incumbency.

    2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Meanwhile, those of us in the real world have had poles on the streets for generations, so there’s no actual need to do anything other than use them.

      No altnet is going to come to my area, yet OR have just come here. I’m just waiting for my install date. Just over a week now until I go from 44Mbps to 900Mbps, whereas the folk up the street can go from less than 10Mbps up to 900Mbps.

      Can’t really fault OR approach in my area. They’re proud of it, and I’m certainly happy that they even added us to the build plan with their subtended headends approach.

    3. Avatar photo Bob says:

      Generally Openreach only put up poles where there is no ducting or the ducting is in very poor condition

    4. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Yeah a lot of us have had poles since the year, what ever. The only street I lived in without poles is the one where the flat is I used to live in and that was in the days of dial up.

      I should think older estates have got poles unless they have ducting and should not need extra poles. Saying that, looking at some of the poles and the amount of stuff that is on them, maybe they do.

      As much as people hate them, they are the cheapest way to get FTTH, digging trenches cost money.
      I am glad mine is from the pole, in a lot of places ZZoomm put Toby boxes, even where there are poles and gone underground, I thought that was going to happen here, being in the air, is less chance of the fibre getting damaged, unless we get someone carrying a tall ladder. 🙂

    5. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      We’ve always had poles in our area, but whereas each pole was fed underground Openreach went pole to pole with their fibre which was ok. Then Swish have been installing using PIA and now All Points fibre are installing using the same method and now the street is just a rats nest of wires. It’s getting out of hand now.

  3. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Increasingly the level of overbuild is increasing. The Alt Nets need a lot of customers to recover their start up costs and capital costs plus the maintenance , billing and customer support costs

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Depends on the altnet. Those run lean and mean with careful use of capital aren’t in such a bad place. Those with high build costs and/or high operational costs are in trouble.

      I can think of a couple immediately that are boned once Openreach have overbuilt them, and they are doing so.

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      The typical £20 a month does not generate a lot of revenues

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Most are vertically integrated so getting both retail and wholesale revenue. ARPU higher than a pure wholesale operator like Openreach.

    4. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      £16.67, Bob. They gotta pay vat on the 20 quid.

  4. Avatar photo John says:

    Really unsurprising that their CPPP is low when they avoid the actual hard to do places where they have to dig like Basingstoke and overbuild so people have already cleared blockages for them

    Cheers for the altnetters taking away their customers. The pace will only accelerate

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      yet in my area it was OR that led the way with FTTP, the first altnet to come along benefited from the perfect ducts and then a second altnet came in with their own ducting. Of course, judging by the boxes on the sides of houses, it’s OR / their ISPs that have got the customers locked in and I doubt the also-ran altnets are going to recoup their investments.

      Perhaps it’s more nuanced than you think John.

    2. Avatar photo Alex says:

      “they avoid actual to do places”

      Sorry, but that’s just factually wrong.

      More than 3 million of the homes they’ve reached so far are in Ofcom’s Area 3 – the very hardest and most expensive to get to.

  5. Avatar photo Ed says:

    Forget HS2, this is the largest civil engineering project this country has seen for a very long time.

    1. Avatar photo ISP User says:

      thank you…I was wondering

  6. Avatar photo O2FanButOpenreachIsGood says:

    An incredible success story we should all be very proud of. This is proper British engineering and industry working at pace, who says we can’t beat the world when we can with builds like this?

    I have no doubt they’ll hit and then exceed the 25 million mark and they’ll go way over it. With subsidy etc I suspect most people will get covered in just a few short years, which felt impossible even three years ago. I’d be more inclined to be giving the FTTP contracts to Openreach at this point.

    Well done BT, well done Openreach, well done Ofcom.

  7. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    While these are good numbers its still tough when you’re in an area not on the map yet. I’ve been expecting my town to be added for a while now – we’ve got a few altnets installing but slowly and skipping some streets (including mine). We’ve now got Nexfibre/VM installing at a crazy rapid rate. Wonder if this will finally spur OR to target my town? Either way my OR copper is gone the first open to order offer I get…

    1. Avatar photo No Name says:

      Doesn’t really matter if you’re on the map either.
      My journey with them so far has been:
      1) Announced 2020, starting in 12 months.
      2) 2021, Pushed back 18 months.
      3) Jan 2023, Available in 12 months.
      4) March 2023, Cancelled.
      5) April 2023, Available in 12 months.
      6) August 2023, Cancelled.
      7) Work to start in 2024, Available by December 2026.

      Timelines are meaningless.

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      All a date means on the Openreach web site really means is you are in there current plans, The actual dates change on an almost random basis

  8. Avatar photo Paul Smith says:

    I’m worried that the ALT nets and others will start doing evil things like disregarding net-neutrality in order to recover costs. Some might compete on service, packages/bundles for things maybe but I do worry that soon you will see things like:
    – £25 / Month basic net connection
    – £40 / Month if you want to be able to access to Netflix, Youtube and Playstation/Xbox, etc, etc

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      No chance.

    2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      They’d be signing their own death warrants.

    3. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      Avoiding net neutrality means they would charge *Netflix* for being able to send content to their users at a decent speed.

      In any case, it ain’t going to fly. Internet without Netflix? Customers would demand a refund.

      There are some altnets who will give you “Internet” without a public IP address though (neither v4 nor v6)

    4. Avatar photo Ben says:

      It’s not just altnets — Virgin Media are doing CGNAT too. Fortunately most consumers don’t notice!

    5. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Citation needed for VMO2 doing CGNAT on the fixed line stuff. They’ve plenty of IP addresses.

  9. Avatar photo john says:

    Openreach’s rollout is pretty odd. They recently had a flurry of activity in my town and its FTTP service is now live on many seemingly random streets. However the workmen have now disappeared. The street that leads into ours is live but ours is not and the checker still says 2026. There is similar weirdness all over the town. Why start an area and not complete it? Are they just trying to meet some arbitrary local authority targets or something?

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Usually cost, occasionally a cock up.

  10. Avatar photo A Stevens says:

    I wonder how long I’ll be waiting? Openreach doesn’t show our exchange in their plans, and CityFibre has stalled. It seems our street, in a relatively affluent inner suburb of a city of 150,000, will be the last place in the country to actually get fibre…

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