BT’s networks arm seeks to gauge demand; eyes 10 million homes passed by mid-2020s.

Openreach late on Monday launched its highly-anticipated consultation that aims to gauge demand for so-called full fibre networks.

The consultation, which was discussed at Connected Britain last month, will inform the BT-owned infrastructure provider’s strategy when it comes to FTTP, and could pave the way for a widespread deployment.

"With the right conditions we believe we could make FTTP available to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s, but we need to understand if there’s sufficient demand to justify the roll-out, and support for the enablers needed to build a viable business case," said Openreach CEO Clive Selley, in a statement.

These enablers include greater collaboration, including risk and cost-sharing models; mass customer migration to the new network; lowering logistical barriers; spreading the cost of an FTTP investment; and legal regulatory frameworks, Openreach said.

"The engineering, commercial and operational challenges are significant, but I believe that greater collaboration across the industry will help us to overcome them and build more fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure," Selley said.

The consultation comes not long after Openreach became a legally-separate entity owned by BT, at the insistence of telco watchdog Ofcom. Following a market review, Ofcom concluded that Openreach still had an incentive to favour the U.K. incumbent despite being required to treat all retail service providers equally.

As well as pressure from the regulator, Openreach also faces mounting pressure from altnets that are cherry-picking markets and rolling out FTTP networks.

One such altnet, CityFibre, recently announced plans to raise £200 million to fund the expansion of its full fibre footprint to further locations, and into the residential market.