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Openreach Set to Top 14 Million UK Premises with FTTP Broadband

Monday, Apr 22nd, 2024 (3:07 pm) - Score 5,160
2023-Openreach-FTTP-Engineer-in-Rural-Street

Network operator Openreach (BT) has today confirmed that their 1.8Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network has now “almost” covered 14 million premises, which comes after they ramped-up build to deploy 1 million premises per quarter. The operator also firmed up on their 30m premises ambition for 2030.

Speaking in Manchester for the Connected North event this morning, Openreach’s Director of Fibre Build, Georgia Grimes, said: “We’ve built full fibre broadband to almost 14 million premises and are now building at a rate of 1m a quarter and will go on to reach 30m by 2030. We’re building on time, in budget, safely and sustainably.”

NOTE: BT are investing up to £15bn to bring FTTP to 25 million premises by December 2026 (80%+ of the UK) and they aspire to potentially reach up to 30 million by 2030 (c. 25-30m).

The clear statement about going “on to reach 30m by 2030” appears to represent a more concrete commitment of intent than we’ve seen before from Openreach. The 2030 date was last year spoken about more aspirationally, often alongside a more ambiguous range of “between 25-30m” (here), but it increasingly seems like they’re now solidifying it as a solid target.

At the same time Openreach’s Business Development Manager, Justine Neale, separately said the operator’s FTTP take-up “will rise to 50%” (up from 34% today or over 4.5m customers) and that’s a bit more specific than the range of 40-55% that was similarly expressed last year for the same 2030 date. But Justine did caveat that they still needed more support from the government to help foster flexi-permits and easier wayleaves for MDU build (here).

Openreach currently expects to add a total of 3.5 million extra premises to their UK FTTP coverage across the 2024 financial year, which they predict will rise to 4 million in FY25. In other words, they should maintain a rate of build around the 1m premises per quarter mark for the next couple of years, during which build costs are expected to stay within their £250 to £350 model (here).

However, Openreach has previously 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 (here). This is to be expected, as national roll-outs naturally have a ramp-up (early phases of build) and ramp-down (late phases) period.

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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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Comments
37 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Derek Harding says:

    Come on ISP – Please let us know what is happening with Three Mobile and and ICNIRP certificates.

    1. Avatar photo Tilly Mcintyre says:

      Nothing will be published by ANYONE!!
      It is being dealt with and was an unfortunate clerical error.

  2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    Are we supposed to pretend that OR are supplying a product that you can get 1.8Gbps on?

    Sure, in the 32 premises where they’ve done just that, but not in the other almost 14m.

    1. Avatar photo James™ says:

      It’s available from EE just now to all of their FTTP customers bar some legacy customers on older kit
      there is also a few other providers to launch it soon I have seen on the forums

    2. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      Seems fishy to me it’s only EE who can get it.

      BT Wholesale aren’t selling it to other ISPs and that feels rather like anti competitive behaviour…

    3. Avatar photo James™ says:

      @Cognizant ISPs are more than welcome to purchase directly from Openreach

    4. Avatar photo Harmeet says:

      @james, what ISPs are launching soon? I’ve only heard mention of Zen

    5. Avatar photo James™ says:

      @Harmeet Zen, Voadfone, and IDNet

    6. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      Cognizant – do you have any proof of that? Are you a BTw customer?

      Even if it is true – is it “anti competitive” when essentially no one on FTTC/FTTP is limited to BTw-based options? That is true even in rural areas, where the headend is still a town or city exchange.

    7. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      I only mention it as not all ISP’s buy through Openreach, therefore are limited to BTw offerings. Indeed nothing stopping them going to Openreach.

    8. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Yes, Ivor, it is potentially anticompetitive for BT’s wholesale arm to be selling a product to its retail arm that no-one else can purchase. EE could go direct to Openreach too, they shouldn’t get access to a BT Wholesale product available to no other customer.

      If we are saying it’s okay for BT Wholesale to do this what’s the point in them being there? They are supposed to be regulated too, they don’t have free reign to do as they please. They have long given themselves sweet deals on the grounds they are their own largest customer and can mane a case for that but not for this. It’s not really a trial when you’ve been selling it to yourself nationwide for months.

  3. Avatar photo LPP says:

    And they could go faster if they really wanted to. The Chiefs around our way have plenty already built and waiting as they’ve already hit this quarters pass rate so save it for the next one.

    Also helps them as most are actually working local and worried about where they’ll be sent next once this build finishes.

  4. Avatar photo Graeme Mackay says:

    I see Openreach have removed their FTTP when and where build plan from the front of their homepage – https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/where-when-building-ultrafast-full-fibre-broadband

    It hasn’t been updated since the start of December 2023.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      You can probably expect another update toward the end of next month, roughly speaking.

  5. Avatar photo TJ says:

    Nothing quite like Openreach posting a PR statement: “We’re building on time, in budget, safely and sustainably” whilst including a picture showing insufficient guarding (not 360 around worksite) which violates Openreach’s internal safety policies. We won’t question whether there is a GDU or roller bar being used as it’s not immediately clear.

    I know it looks fairly rural/isolated but Openreach policy dictates that 360 degree workspace segregation is not optional – this picture is an embarrassment.

    1. Avatar photo Ed says:

      Or it might be a stock/file picture??

    2. Avatar photo TJ says:

      I’m finding much amusement that the picture for this article has been silently changed to one showing a properly segregated work space. Shame they couldn’t have used a photo clearly showing that a GDU/roller bar was being used.

      I assume a risk assessment has been completed for the stacking of the lids as required by Openreach policy?

  6. Avatar photo Tim says:

    Fibre is 50 yards from my house but I am too far from a cabinet to have it. The first 5 houses have but they get it from chorley. I am connected to Bamber bridge despite being 100yd from those connected to chorley

  7. Avatar photo D.I.G. says:

    The supply of easy builds is coming to an end ? They are going to reduce the rate of build by 75% and spend £1bn less each year starting in 2027 – those of us in harder to do places (DIG) are going to have to wait a while yet – if it ever does get done.

    1. Avatar photo Knowledge Fairy says:

      Look into government voucher schemes as they cover build cost now. And the new one is for anyone getting 100mbs or less

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      The roll out is still quite rapid. As about two thirds of the UK now have full fibre the build rate will slow as will the spend. They will also be getting costs savings from the move to full digital and the commencement of exchange closures as well, probably a fair bit of cash to be got from recovering the old copper cables

    3. Avatar photo No Name says:

      Problem is, if your address is in a plan, the voucher schemes reject you.
      I’ve been in the plan for nearly 4 years, still no fibre. It’s been one of the biggest gripes of the voucher scheme so far. You shouldn’t be rejected because a provider might reach you in half a decade.

    4. Avatar photo Me says:

      Sadly all you can do is wait or move. Forget the voucher scheme that’s useless and ill thought out like most government ideas. As stated apparently if you have a build planned no matter when you can’t get a voucher. Best you can do is rely on cellular connectivity and if your lucky 5G from someone.

    5. Avatar photo Steve says:

      If I am reading it right, this is only for ‘rural’ locations. I’m not rural according to the government. I’m on the edge of a small market town. Both OR and AltNets are picking the easy homes/businesses (mostly new builds and those near the exchange) to build on but all I get is a ‘may by by 2026’. We run a business from the house too, but I think the rural aspect is the bit that excludes us. As mentioned on the forums, I get pretty good 5G downloads on Three, but the uploads are a slower than my FTTC.

  8. Avatar photo steve says:

    My exchange has been sat at building for over 2 years now, meanwhile one of their engineers spent 4 hours fixing my FTTC line when it dropped to 10Mbps due to a failure mid line somewhere.

    You have to wonder how cost effective it is fixing old crumbling infrastructure rather than actually finishing the job.

  9. Avatar photo NW London Person says:

    Just had an email from Openreach. My street is now in the FTTP build programme – some time between now and December 2026. I’m on Colindale exchange which is being progressively emptied prior to demolition so this is all fun and games.

    Fortunately for me, Community Fibre deployed in early 2021.

    1. Avatar photo Anktherguy says:

      I’m in Finchley Central. Got the same email and was naively hopeful until I saw the December 2026 date! I mean why even bother with the update. Sadly community fibre aren’t here.

  10. Avatar photo Cumbria Man says:

    I live in Cumbria where Fibrus and Virgin are currently deploying their networks (Fibrus recently gone live in my town). Openreach still say ‘by 2026’ for the majority of the county. You’d think they might have some urgency given the amount of money/customers they could lose to the above providers!

  11. Avatar photo Nick says:

    https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C1703929#:~:text=Conversion%20from%20existing%20gas%20to%20natural,gas%20from%20the%20North%20Sea%20Date%3A%201964-1971

    How can I contain the gush of superlatives for OpenReach’s achievement compared with that of the above – North Sea Gas Conversion, 1964-1971, 14 million premises visited (Source:National Archives, Kew) in 7 years and far more work involved.

    According to co-pilot, Openreach started with FTTP in 2009 !!!!! Some say a snail walking backwards for Christmas could have done it faster.

    “Openreach, the UK’s leading digital infrastructure provider, has been on a journey to enhance connectivity across the country. Let’s delve into the timeline of their Full Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) installations:

    Early Stages:
    In 2009, BT (British Telecom) announced that Openreach would connect 2.5 million British homes to the higher-speed FTTP network service by 2012. This marked the initial steps toward widespread fiber-optic connectivity1.
    Deddington Milestone:
    Openreach achieved a significant milestone when they launched their first ‘fibre-only’ exchange in Deddington. This exchange went live, providing residents with access to FTTP. Additionally, Openreach introduced FTTP on demand, expanding the availability of fiber connections to even more people2.
    Broadening Reach:
    By 2013, approximately 15 million UK homes and businesses could order fiber broadband over Openreach’s network. During this period, over 1.5 million homes and businesses were successfully connected to FTTP2.
    Ambitious Plans:
    Looking ahead, Openreach has set an ambitious goal. They aim to deliver Ultrafast Full Fibre Broadband to 25 million homes and businesses by December 2026, provided the right investment conditions are in place. This monumental project aims to support the UK government’s vision of making Gigabit-capable broadband available to more than 85% of the country3.
    In summary, Openreach has made significant strides in FTTP deployment, and their ongoing efforts promise a brighter digital future for the UK. If you’re curious about whether your specific exchange is part of their build plan, you can use Openreach’s Fibre Checker to stay informed about updates3.”

    Clearly they’re not going to meet 25 million by 2026 @ 43,000 installations a week, let alone 30 million by 2030.

    Don’t worry, board-room bonuses will still be paid, in-line with the ever advancing goalposts

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      2009 start irrelevant: Openreach were not focused on FTTP but FTTC. North Sea Gas programme irrelevant: 14 million homes not 30 million premises, a monopoly so no competition and far more bodies available. 43,000 installations a week would be installs into homes, not premises passed and ready for service. If people don’t order they aren’t getting installed.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      All this said you mentioned having to save money in various ways being a pensioner. If you have some ways this could be done more quickly without breaking the bank you wouldn’t have to worry about not heating most of the house.

      You seem to think it’s easy so I look forward to your becoming a millionaire soon through consultancy. A lot of firms from Openreach to Liberty Global to CityFibre to gas, water and electricity companies would love to hear how they can do civils works faster and cheaper.

    3. Avatar photo Nick says:

      At great regret, I have to say that Consultancy is not necessary nowadays(I was for part of my working life an organisation, methods and work study practioner).

      Just ask co-pilot, or chat GPT.

      This should be fun.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Hilarious.

  12. Avatar photo Nick says:

    Without consulting Chat GPT or similar, one thought that re-occurs(Which was previously mentioned on this forum) would be for Openreach/BT to complete the connection of fibre grade services to the premises (The so called “Last-mile”) using daisy-chained line-of-sight wireless units attached to the numerous existing telegraph poles/lamp standard/buildings.

    In the case of my road, which is 300 yards long suburban road in NW London, there’s a mixture of 1930s and more recent housing. The 1930s housing is connected to the telecoms system via flown cable to the telegraph poles whilst the modern housing is connected by cables running in underground conduit.There are two FTTC cabinets serving the road, positioned at each end of the road. These have been there for the last 6-7 years. But the street has been deprived of a full-fibre or near full fibre speeds because of the Openreach/BT adherence to the principle of fibre-all-the-way being the only solution.

    And the fact that Virgin already have co-ax cable services down the road, means that my street will be way down the priority list, in engineering terms,and probably will be lucky to get it by 2030.(Wonder what the BT marketeers think of that ?)

    In my mind this location would be ideal for a radio solution, albeit perhaps temporary (10 years), for the premises to cabinet connection . . daisy chained repeater radios, in line-of-sight to each other and the most adjacent premises. Perhaps even meshed so as to account for unserviceability of one unit.

    If this had been adopted as an interim measure, customers could have got access to near fast fibre by now.Now they will have to wait ’til 2030. And the improved speed does make a difference the user web experience ( I found this out when updating by wireless router to Wi-Fi 6)

    As it stands, BT Wholesale indicates that G.Fast has been withdrawn and full fibre is “On-Demand” i.e. if a customer like me, who is of course not connected to the nearest FTTC Cabinet 75 feet away but to the one 300 yards away at the opposite end of the road, then a request for Full-Fibre is met with a connection estimate running into thousands of pounds.

    Of course that raises another issue, that of premises being connected to a remote cabinet, when there’s a nearer one available.There needs to be a rationalisation of premises connections to ensure that the nearest cabinet is always used.

    And as regards all this non-sense across the industry about the need to erect new telegraph poles to carry a fibre connection. OfPlop (Plop decision, gedit ?) should have ensured that the licence conditions specified that erection of poles would be the last resort. There are plenty of technologies available which would render the need to excavate continuous trenches e.g. on short-runs the use of hydraulically rammed pre-formed/cast conduit under existing roads/pavements (As used for HS2 to divert a drainage culvert under the M40 (And the operation was undertaken without halting the traffic) and on longer runs say 100 feet, the use of burrowing mole devices which only require entry and exit pits (These being guided by an operator using a camera in the head of the device and monitored by a bod on the surface using real-time ground-penetrating radar. )

    The way that Ofplop have issued the licences means that a lot of the installers are properly capitalised to do have this equipment on inventory or the cash flow to hire it.

  13. Avatar photo Al says:

    I’ve had the notification from OpenReach and EE that I can now get a 1.8Gb. I placed an order for a 1Gb connection with IDnet only to find out that it’s limited to 330/50 by OpenReach. Is this normal practice and 1Gb will be coming or have I just been caught out my marketing and capable ≠ available?

  14. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why they are still saying 25 million by the end 2026.

    We are 139 weeks away, they would still be a bit short if they built at 73k a week which is their current record.

    I doubt they’ve done the hardest areas first either. I can still see this being revised. They’ll probably dress it up as it’s taking us until 2030 now but we are doing an extra 5 million premises.

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