Openreach has announced that it plans to include an extra 227 rural towns across the UK in its fibre broadband rollout scheme.
Within the next 14 months, Openreach hopes to begin work on a network of fibre optic cables that will bring ultra-fast broadband to a total of 250,000 homes across the country. The company expects to have reached four million homes by March 2021.
New locations set to receive the benefits of full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) include Aberdare in South Wales and Saxmundham in Suffolk.
The multi-billion pound “Fibre First” programme launched in February 2018 but only affected major cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester. Then late last year, Openreach completed a series of “village trials” designed to help circumnavigate the difficulties associated with building full-fibre networks in hard-to-reach areas of the UK. By this point, the total number of build locations had reached 103.
A report commissioned by Openreach at the time revealed that around 500,000 people could be brought into the workforce as a result of installing FTTP. The report also pointed out that better broadband would give existing members of the workforce the chance to work from home more frequently, and improve the digital presence of companies that operate out of rural areas.
In a statement, Openreach CEO Clive Selley said: “Our full-fibre build programme is going great guns – having passed over 2 million premises already on the way to our 4m target by March 2021.
“We’re now building at around 26,000 premises a week in over 100 locations – reaching a new home or business every 23 seconds. That’s up from 13,000 premises a week this time last year.”
Looking to the future, Openreach reportedly hopes to have reached some 15 million homes by the mid-2020s.
You can view a full list of locations currently included in the Fibre First rollout via this link.