We spoke to Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, about his personal journey in the telecoms industry, Openreach’s ongoing fibre rollout, and what the phase ‘Connected Britain’ means to him

Over the past 18 months, connectivity has become far more integral to our lives, both at work and at home, than ever before. Government targets to make gigabit-capable networks available to the majority of the UK population have seen rollouts accelerated like never before. 

But what exactly does a Connected Britain look like?

For Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, building these networks as quickly as possible will be at the heart of the UK’s development, not only in terms of economic prosperity, but also as a catalyst for a better society. 

“Even the phrase ‘Connected Britain’ means great connectivity – great digital connectivity – which I think leads directly to fantastic outcomes for the country, economically, societally, and environmentally,” said Selley. “It’s a massive underpinning for building a better Britain, if we get this right.”

“If we, as an industry, can fully fibre Britain, it will deliver a £59 billion boost to the country’s productivity. And that’s a per annum impact,” explained Selley, citing a recent study. “It will bring almost a million people back into the workplace by offering them the flexibility and opportunity –fundamentally, to be part of a bigger company but to do so remotely.”

But while the industry as a whole is racing towards these government targets, there remain numerous barriers to achieving Project Gigabit, not least the difficulty in rolling out high-quality infrastructure to rural areas.

For Selley, the industry must focus on what he calls a “more balanced build”, helping to bridge the digital divide for some of the UK’s most rural areas. 

“I would encourage us as the industry to look at a more balanced build – building not only in urban and sub-urban areas, where lots of us are doing work right now, but ensuring that we balance our efforts to properly cover rural and even ultra-rural communities,” said Selley. “This is essential because it drives the levelling up agenda, part of which is shrinking the digital gap between cities and rural areas. We can help do that if we undertake a balanced fibre build.”


You can watch the full interview with Clive from the video above. 

If you want to hear move from Clive and Openreach, he will be delivering the opening keynote on Day 2 of Connected Britain tomorrow, as well as joining expert colleagues on a panel discussing fibre’s role in ‘levelling up’ the UK. Check out the agenda here for more information 

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