The latest update shows that 1.9 million homes and businesses gained access to gigabit-capable fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) last year
In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, Openreach have nonetheless been hard at work rolling out FTTP at an astonishing pace, reaching 1.9 million new premises in 2020, bringing the total to 4.5 million UK premises passed.
The increased speed of the rollout is clear to see when compared to data from previous year. In the 2019–2020 period they reached 1.3 million new homes, meaning Openreach increased their deployment rate last year by almost 50%
Over the last quarter, in fact, Openreach claim to be passing around 42,000 homes per week.
In the future, the operator hopes to increase this even further, reaching a max build rate of 3 million per year.
“We’re continuing to accelerate the programme – having built full fibre to more than 1.9 million premises so far this year. We’re on track to get to 20 million premises by the mid to late 2020s – at which point nearly two thirds of the UK will be able to order full fibre services over our network,” said Openreach in a statement.
Openreach says it has invested over £14 billion across all of its projects in the last decade. Currently its rollout reaches over 170 city locations, with a further 550 market towns and villages currently being built.
Last week, Ofcom published its latest market review, in which it said it would not implement price caps
for wholesale access, something which should give the likes of Openreach the leeway it needs to, in the words of BT’s Philip Jansen, “build like fury”. The market review was received in a broadly positive way by the industry, who see it as an opportunity for the fixed market to grow and develop healthy competition.
Openreach itself has ambitions of reaching 20 million premises in the period between 2025 and 2030, investing £12 billion to do so. Part of this fund will be supported by government subsidies, such as the new £5 billion Project Gigabit scheme announced last month, but this nonetheless represents an enormous investment at a time when digitalisation is more crucial than ever.
Now that Ofcom will allow Openreach to obtain the returns it deems necessary for the rollout, the first major barrier to further acceleration appears to have been passed.
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