BT-Openreach Fibre Network passes 25 Million UK Premises as UK Superfast Broadband Coverage hits 90%Charles Wood
In what Openreach describes as “one of the fastest deployments of fibre broadband in the world”, it announced yesterday that its fibre network has passed the 25 million premises milestone, helping to take the UK’s superfast broadband (24Mbit/s) coverage past 90% of premises.
Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said that they are still “working hard to get [superfast broadband] coverage to 95 per cent and above”, in line with the Government’s pledge to reach this level by 2017. 4 out of 25 million premises have been reached thanks to the BDUK programme (publicly funded programme designed to complement private sector investment). Whilst there remains debate about the way the BDUK procurement process was structured, in addition to calls for BT and Openreach to be structurally separated, the deployment of superfast broadband is on track and has hit a peak of 70.000 premises a week.
The UK has pulled ahead of comparable EU countries when it comes to availability and take-up of superfast broadband, according to Ofcom’s European Broadband Scorecard, with an increase in UK average broadband speed by 27% since 2014 (from 23Mbps in 2014 to 29Mbps in 2015).
The final 5% of UK premises, which are predominantly located in the hardest-to-reach areas, still represents a challenge. Recent findings of 7 Government-funded market test pilots indicated that alternative technologies can deliver good quality superfast connections. A final report will be available in the next months and it will be interesting to see how the outcomes of the pilot projects will inform Government on the best approach to take in providing superfast broadband coverage in the last 5%. Outcomes will also contribute to the current work on designing and implementing the Broadband Universal Service Obligation of 10Mbit/s. In the meantime, Openreach is working to bring ultrafast broadband to 10 million premises by 2020, using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services and G.fast technology, with trials across the UK already taking place.