Pace of FTTP rollout set to increase, Openreach boss says

Pace of FTTP rollout set to increase, Openreach boss says

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The pace at which network infrastructure firm Openreach rolls out full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connectivity is set to increase in the coming months as the firm plans more ambitious coverage targets.

Philip Jansen, chief executive of the firm's parent company BT Group, said existing goals to deliver this connectivity to around three million homes and businesses by March 2021, and a total of ten million premises by the mid-2020, will be stepped up.

Instead, the company is now aiming to reach four million properties by 2020, with its mid-2020s target increased by a third, to 15 million premises, assuming the right regulatory and policy conditions are in place to support this.

"Our aim is to deliver the best converged network and be the leader in fixed ultrafast and mobile 5G networks," Mr Jansen said. "We are increasingly confident in the environment for investment in the UK."

Currently, Openreach's FTTP network reaches around 1.2 million premises, with approximately 20,000 properties being added to this figure every week. This is some three times faster progress than last year.

It was noted by how the firm's strategy has shifted significantly since 2018. Prior to this, it had committed only to covering two million premises with FTTP and ten million with the slower, but cheaper, technology by the end of March 2021.

However, a combination of regulatory changes, political pressure to improve the country's full fibre capabilities and growing competition from alternative providers, such as CityFibre, Hyperoptic and a range of smaller, regionally-focused startups, have all acted to encourage Openreach to increase its focus on full fibre.

BT Group's financial results also revealed that Openreach's delivery of full fibre connectivity is generally coming in at the "lower end" of its projected cost range of between £300 and £400 per premises, while the firm believes that around half of UK premises can be provisioned with FTTP within this window.

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