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Salisbury to become the first UK city with universal access to Openreach’s future-proof, full fibre broadband technology

Press Release   •   Mar 19, 2019 14:53 GMT

Salisbury will become the first entire city in the country to gain access to Openreach’s new, future-proof Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology,[1] in what is expected to be the fastest city-wide network build in the UK.

The UK’s digital infrastructure company is aiming for its ‘Fibre First’ build programme in Salisbury to be completed within a year, and it will deliver fibre optic broadband cables from the exchange directly to more than 20,000 premises across the city. When the build is complete, families, businesses and public buildings across the city of Salisbury will be able to reap the benefits of fast, reliable and future-proof broadband for decades to come.

Openreach is working closely with partners across the city to make sure the infrastructure build can happen at an unrivalled pace and with minimal disruption to local residents. With this close collaboration, and the expertise Openreach has accumulated over many years of fibre broadband delivery, the company hopes to have its new services ready to order throughout the city by April 2020.

The organisations have also been working to identify new usage cases for the city’s residents, businesses and public services, which will enable them to exploit the new platform and boost Salisbury’s future productivity and prosperity.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:“The growing speed with which we connect online with our families, friends and work colleagues, not only brings us closer together, but it also provides huge benefits for our economy.

“I’m delighted that Salisbury will be the first UK city to gain universal access to the gold-standard of the internet – ultrafast full fibre – making it one of the most cutting-edge cities in the country. It’s vital that every family and business across the country can benefit from this new technology, which is why we’ve committed to deliver a nationwide full fibre network by 2033.”

John Glen, MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire said, “Following early discussions I had with Openreach last year, I am absolutely delighted by their decision to make Salisbury the first Openreach city in the UK to gain access to full fibre broadband.Full fibre will significantly improve the attractiveness of Salisbury for companies looking for a location with cutting-edge connectivity, boosting the number of high-quality job opportunities for constituents.With speeds of 1Gbps, I very much look forward to seeing how this investment will transform opportunities for local residents and businesses, as well as driving innovation in the provision of public services.

Clive Selley, CEO at Openreach, said: “Salisbury has a unique and inspiring history - from its medieval sites to its thriving cultural sector, it’s an icon of our national heritage – and now we’re laying the foundations for an even more exciting future. The city will be a focal point of our ambition to future proof the UK’s digital infrastructure and boost the country’s economic growth and productivity.

“For Salisbury’s homes, shops, GP surgeries and schools, it will mean fewer broadband faults, faster connections, and a consistent reliable network that will serve the city for decades to come. From home-working to healthcare, digital trade to entertainment, the possibilities that a full fibre network can bring are almost limitless.

“This is the first location in the UK where we’re aiming to upgrade an entire city network in a single year, so it’s a hugely ambitious project. As a medieval city, Salisbury’s narrow streets won’t be the easiest for our engineers to access and work in, but we’re confident that it’s achievable thanks to the close partnership we’ve built with the Council and the unrivalled experience and skill of our engineering teams.”

Councillor Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and South Wiltshire Recovery at Wiltshire Council said: We are looking forward to fibre broadband coming to Salisbury and enjoying the benefits of full-fibre technology in the city.

“This new network will provide a platform for Salisbury’s future economic and social prosperity, and we welcome Openreach’s commitment to ensure a safe, fast and quality build that minimises disruption in our historic city.”

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Salisbury businesses gear-up for fibre

Rich Lloyd, Director of serious games development company Blueflame Digital said, “Having fibre connectivity will be a game changer. Reliable broadband is an essential tool for any business, and we wouldn’t survive without the internet – it impacts every aspect from the way we communicate as a team to how we handle our clients and projects.The benefits of fibre broadband will mean that we can directly compete with places like London, without any of the challenges that businesses in inner cities face. Fibre will be a boost for all the businesses based here in Salisbury, and for me personally, it means that I can run a world-class business and raise my family in the countryside at the same time”.

Salisbury-based business the British Shoe Company has 45 years of experience in shoe manufacture, repairs and sales.Owner John Carney Snr made the decision to relocate to the heart of the cathedral city five years ago, with the quintessential Englishness of the Salisbury a perfect fit for the business’s target audience of locals and tourists.But poor connectivity is holding the business back, meaning it struggles to meet the increasing demands on its website causing frustration.

Director John Carney Jnr says, “We are losing around 2 to 3 hours a day from a combination of the internet crashing and being extremely slow.This has a direct effect on our productivity both in-store and online which has a dramatic effect on our company turnover.With around 600 different shoe styles, we are constantly making changes and need to stay ahead of the trend.With improved connectivity, I believe our overall ability to compete both in the UK and around the world will be drastically improved”.

And Poppy’s Picnic, an award-winning young company in the heart of Wiltshire is crediting the arrival of full fibre for revolutionizing its business.The company manufactures fresh, raw pet food and now benefits from some of the fastest and most resilient broadband speeds in the country.It originally relied on expensive and unreliable mobile broadband dongles, which were not conducive for a business hoping to expand its retail order capabilities in the UK and overseas.

Since the fibre technology was made available in 2018 through the BDUK programme, the business has run more efficiently with virtual training sessions for staff, collaborative working via the cloud in real time and uninterrupted video calls with suppliers in London and Asia, reducing stress and saving time and money once spent on expensive travel.

Founder Dylan Watkins said, “Right from the point of installation, we were able to process orders in seconds rather than 15 minutes, handle simultaneous customer calls online and by phone, and gone are the days of intermittent connection when video-calling potential investors.As a young business, to stay competitive we need to give customers a high level of service and fibre has propelled us forward.In just three months, we’ve seen an increase in our customer satisfaction ratings and our team is much more motivated”.

Innovate Product Design specialises in helping inventors patent, prototype and commercialise their new product ideas.It’s based in Salisbury and has thirty employees and satellite offices in London, Paris and San Francisco.Managing Director, Alastair Swanwick said, “Full fibre will greatly improve communication tools, such as video conferencing, to accelerate the expansion of our business overseas.In addition, it will revolutionise the time it takes to complete a project, with the heavy-duty 3D CAD processing being outsourced to the cloud.We will be able to offer a world-class service while enjoying the Salisbury city life and beautiful surrounding countryside”.

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Investment in local people and training

Openreach is recruiting 3,000 new trainee engineers across the UK– including 24 new roles in Salisbury[2] – to support its network plans, whilst Salisbury joins 25 other locations across the UK that make up the first phase of Openreach’s multi-million pound ‘Fibre First’ programme, which will initially connect three million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.

The business is also creating 12 new and upgraded regional training facilities for engineers, with two up-and-running already in Bradford and Peterborough. Many of these centres feature a unique ‘Open Street’ environment – a meticulously designed mock-up of a typical suburban street which gives recruits the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills in an authentic, immersive yet controlled environment.

Among the 12 facilities being built and upgraded are two training centres in Nursling and Swindon, which will receive £730,000 worth of investment in total. Nursling will benefit from its own ‘Open Street’, while two new classrooms and a specialised fibre training facility are planned for the centre in Swindon.

Openreach’s ambition is to build FTTP to around 10 million premises by the mid-2020s and ultimately to the majority of the UK under the right conditions. By the end of 2018, Openreach had made full fibre broadband technology available to around 900,000 homes and businesses nationwide.

To ensure the community is kept up-to-date on the project’s progress, Openreach will provide updates ahead of each Salisbury City Council meeting, with the first due to take place on Saturday 18th May.

The benefits of Openreach’s full fibre technology will also be a boost for Salisbury’s education, health and social care facilities. For schools, colleges and universities, an FTTP connection can unlock opportunities for online learning; the streaming of lessons and lectures without interruption; and the use of portals for communicating with classmates or teachers, and submitting work.

For GP surgeries, full fibre can enable faster, more reliable on-demand services, such as remote doctors’ appointments and check-ups, plus more efficient, reliable access to online information and records. Meanwhile for care homes, it can mean a 24/7 connection between residents and their loved ones, as well as activities and entertainment, from catch-up TV to online puzzles and e-books.

Kevin Brady, HR Director at Openreach, said: We’re getting on with building full fibre broadband for the entire city of Salisbury, and we’ll need skilled, dedicated engineers to get the job done.

“With hundreds of new engineering roles for people from all walks of life across the area – and two upgraded training centres in nearby Nursling and Swindon – we’re determined to source the talent we need to build and maintain Salisbury’s full fibre broadband network, today and in the future.”

More information about Openreach’s fibre first programme can be found here: openreach.co.uk/fibre-first

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More Information

For further information

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

Full fibre connections will provide speeds of up to 1Gbps, about 20 times faster than the current UK average of 46.2Mbps – enough for a Salisbury family to stream 200 HD movies all at the same time.

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

[1]Openreach has a dedicated First First section of its website with lots of information about our full fibre build programme, including a short video which explains what Full Fibre technology is.

[2]The company is hiring 6,500 apprentice engineers in every corner of the country over two years to support its ‘full fibre’ broadband build plans. It is currently looking for 3,000 new recruits, having filled 3,500 such roles in 2018. Out of the 6,500 total, 3,600 are net hires, having taken account of attrition (e.g. retirement).

About Openreach

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.

We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, 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 Britain can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 600 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

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

For the year ended 31 March 2018, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visit openreach.co.uk