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Futureproof broadband coming to 36 new locations as Openreach accelerates its nationwide build programme

Press release   •   Jul 31, 2019 09:40 BST

Engineer connecting up individual fibre optic cables serving people's homes.

                            Work in a further 36 locations will begin during the next 12 months

                                    Scotland a focus after Scottish Government support

Openreach, the UK’s digital infrastructure company, today announced 36 new locations where it will be building its new, future-proof Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technologyover the next 12 months.

Work will begin in towns and cities across the country including Newcastle, Doncaster, Chelmsford and St Albans over the coming months, whilst four new locations in Scotland (Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire and Bathgate, Broxburn and Whitburn in West Lothian) have been prioritised following the Scottish Government’s decision to extend rates relief on new fibre broadband networks.

Overall, 74 locations across the UK have now been included in Openreach’s multi-billion pound Fibre First programme.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach, said: “We’re pressing ahead with our investment and Openreach engineers are now building in communities all over the country, keeping us on track to deliver against the bigger ambitions we set out in May.

“The Government wants to see a nationwide full fibre network and we’re keen to lead the way in helping them achieve that. We know that if it’s going to happen, Openreach will need to be at the front doing the heavy lifting, so we’re working hard to build a commercially viable plan.

“One headwind to investment which affects all full fibre builders is business rates, and we’ve been encouraged by the Scottish Government’s move to extend rates relief north of the border. I’m convinced that prioritising investment in faster, more reliable and future proof broadband networks will prove to be a no-regrets decision for future generations.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Connectivity Minister for the Scottish Government, said: “We listened to industry and provided 10 years rates relief, five years more than the UK Government, with the aim of encouraging new investment in Scotland’s fibre infrastructure network. I am pleased to see that decision yielding early results with this announcement by Openreach.

“Through the DSSB programme, we have seen the transformative effects that good quality digital connectivity can deliver for Scotland, and I hope the delivery of full fibre infrastructure to Bathgate, Broxburn, Kilmarnock and Whitburn will deliver similar results.

“Commercial investment is a critical element of delivering our ambition to deliver 100% superfast broadband access to every home and business in the country, making Scotland one of the best-connected countries in Europe.”

Openreach recently raised its target for full fibre connections from three to four million premises by March 2021, with an ambition to reach 15 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s if the right investment conditions are in place.

The business doubled its FTTP footprint last year and continues to ramp up the build – making the technology available to more than 20,000 new homes and businesses every week across the UK.

More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the UK now have access to faster, more reliable and future-proof, full fibre broadband services over the Openreach network.

Since the launch of Openreach’s Fibre First build programme in February last year, its engineers have deployed around 2.6 million kilometres of fibre– enough to travel to the moon and back three times.

Last year the company hired 3,500 trainee engineers, at a time when many other organisations were cutting, and it has already recruited 2,600 (90 per cent) out of 3,000 trainee engineer hires announced in January for this year.

The new locations have been published on Openreach’s website[1] alongside a raft of information about its ‘Fibre First’ build programme. Thisshort videoexplains what full fibre technology is. Find out more about our Fibre First programme here. People interested in upgrading their broadband can see what’s available in their area by entering their postcode into Openreach’sonline fibre checker

For further information

Enquiries about this story can be made to the Openreach PR team on 020 7809 7950or email: press@openreach.co.uk. All news releases can be accessed on our web site.

Notes to Editors

Our Fibre First Programme Build Locations:

Date of Openreach announcement Town, city or borough
February 2018 1. Birmingham5. Leeds 2. Bristol6. Liverpool 3. Cardiff7. London

4. Edinburgh8. 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

What difference does full fibre broadband make?

Full fibre or ultrafast broadband provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity; fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and the ability to upgrade easily to meet the demands of future technology. Ultrafast broadband makes everything happen so much more quickly. For example;

Ultrafast broadband enables the people within your home to be online at the same time, at any time. You’ll be able to do several things simultaneously such as streaming live music, enjoying the latest release on streaming platforms, and uploading large files to social media. There’s enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies or TV simultaneously, without waiting or buffering. In fact, downloading a typical HD film would take less time than it takes to make a cup of tea.

Use of the internet now touches every part of the curriculum, with pupils using it every day for everything from interactive exercises to doing online research for school projects and homework. Without fast connectivity and speeds there is the risk that children will miss out on what is now an essential learning tool.

With the Internet of Things - we're entering a period where ubiquitous connectivity is the norm rather than the exception for both homes and businesses, with predictions for more than 20 billion[2] connected devices by 2020. Full fibre ensures a reliable connection to support this complex web of devices – whether for checking on an ageing parent through a telehealth app or using smart sensors to control office heating and lighting.

Businesses, including small businesses operating from home, will be able remain economically competitive all over the UK and around the world. Ultrafast will make uploading, downloading and transferring large files much easier.

Ultrafast allows for seamless high definition video conferencing, reducing time-consuming and expensive face-to-face meetings and helping make remote and flexible working become the norm.

Without customer and billing data businesses would fail. Ultrafast broadband combined with cloud computing means businesses can upload, store, access and download vast amounts of data in minutes instead of hours. Data is backed up and securely archived off-site so not relying on costly, ageing servers sitting under a desk.

Businesses can access data, files and information easily and securely – and from almost anywhere.

Through a resilient ultrafast connection, businesses can respond and react more quickly – so they can sell more and be more competitive

Fibre broadband allows businesses to make their marketing digital, reaching customers through new, faster, richer and easier to track communications - all over the world.

[1] Openreach has committed to publishing information on its websitedetailing its build plans for the next 12 months - including the total number of exchange areas to be reached in each location over the next 24 months. It will also publish details of the specific exchanges where FTTP is currently being built, has already been built, or it intends to start building within the next three months. The company will update this information every three months

[2]https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2017-02-07-gartner-says-8-billion-connected-things-will-be-in-use-in-2017-up-31-percent-from-2016

About Openreach

Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.

We’re 33,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 620 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, BT and Zen, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27.5m UK premises

Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £13 billion into our network and, at more than 173 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,314 times.

Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re on track to reach four million premises with this ‘full fibre’ technology by March 2021 and ultimately, we want to upgrade the majority of the UK if the conditions are right. We’re also hiring around 3,000 trainee engineers this year to help us build that network and deliver better service across the country.

Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed division of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visit openreach.co.uk