Openreach, the access network business unit of BT, has announced plans to extend its ultrafast fiber-optic broadband network. The initial phase of the program will include eight major UK cities, with Edinburgh among the first to benefit from deployment of an ultrafast fiber to the premises (FTTP) broadband network.
The national broadband infrastructure provider's proposal includes plans to roll out FTTP to 3 million premises across the U.K. by the end of 2020 through the Fibre First program. Openreach intends to reach 800,000 premises with FTTP in Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) areas and new housing sites, and to about 1.7 million premises in towns and cities with the Fibre First program.
According to Openreach, FTTP connections can provide ultrafast speeds up to 1 Gbps. The multi-million-pound expansion will start this year, including connecting tens of thousands of Edinburgh homes and businesses, the provider says.
"This latest multi-million-pound investment in Edinburgh by Openreach will give a vital boost to the city's households and businesses," said Andrew Hepburn, Openreach's director of infrastructure delivery in Scotland. "For our vibrant business community, which is known for its innovation, it will mean more firms benefiting from the huge opportunities offered by this exciting technology to attract new customers, provide new services, and work more efficiently."
The initial phase of the Fibre First program will link as many as 40 UK towns, cities, and boroughs with FTTP networks, says Openreach. In addition to Edinburgh, the first phase of Openreach's Fibre First program will benefit Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London, and Manchester.
Openreach, the business unit of BT responsible for the deployment, upkeep, and maintenance of BT's access network infrastructure, has provided 500,000 British residential premises with FTTP access, most of which are rural (see "Openreach to separate from BT").
Along with its metro initiatives, Openreach says it will remain focused on delivering FTTP to rural areas in partnership with the government, providing future-proofed, FTTP network access to rural U.K. communities. The provider plans to reach 3 million premises and build a 10 million FTTP footprint by 2020.
"We'll continue to invest in our people and we're already in the process of re-training and upskilling to make Fibre First a reality," said Openreach CEO Clive Selley. "Through the Fibre First programme, Openreach is getting on with the job of building. We plan to hire around 3,000 engineers in 2018/19 to kick-start Fibre First and further improve the reliability and performance of our existing networks."
Openreach says it will continue to commit to rolling out G.fast as part of its ultrafast efforts, deploying it at scale to millions of U.K. premises (see, for example, "Openreach taps Huawei, Nokia for G.fast roll-out"). Openreach plans to employ a Fibre First ethos as well, without building G.fast and FTTP to the same locations.
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