These new locations will give around 250,000 premises access to full fibre broadband

The race to deploy full fibre broadband throughout the UK rages on, with Openreach today announcing an expansion of its rural coverage.

A total of 227 new locations will receive access to the full fibre network, including Aberdare and Camarthen (South Wales), Beaminster (Dorset), Buckfastleigh and Budleigh Salterton (Devon), Clitheroe (Lancashire), Ely (Cambridgeshire), East Grinstead (Surrey), Liskeard (Cornwall), and Shaftesbury (Dorset).

The work on these new locations is set to start within the next 14 months.
The announcement comes following 13 ‘village trials’ late last year, which were devised to explore new equipment to make rural fibre deployment cheaper and easier. According to Openreach’s managing director of strategic infrastructure and development, Kim Mears, these trials featured everything from “diamond cutters” that can easily penetrate roads to drones that can fly fibre across rivers and valleys.
The scale at which Openreach can deploy these measures of increased efficiency is unknown, but the lessons learned are surely valuable nonetheless, demonstrating that there is still much room for improvement when it comes to fibre deployment efficiency.
Openreach have a target of reaching 4 million premises by March 2021, of which they have already completed more than 2 million.
“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,” said Openreach CEO Clive Selley.
This expansion will be somewhat facilitated by Ofcom’s recent announcement that they will be relaxing parts of their regulation, but some of the biggest hurdles for fibre operators still remain.
“Currently, the biggest missing piece of this puzzle is getting an exemption from business rates on building fibre cables which is critical for any fibre builder’s long-term investment case,” explained Selley.
Openreach also announced that 120,000 UK premises have so far signed up to their Community Fibre Partnership scheme, in which FTTP deployments are cofunded by the recipient community. If this scheme continues to grow rapidly, it could see many areas receive fibre that were deemed too cost-inefficient by existing private and publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.
To learn all the latest about the UK’s race for full fibre coverage, check out Connected Britain 2020
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