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Openreach is to sound out communications providers on the viability of creating full-fibre network in Britain.

The infrastructure body has already committed to making ultrafast speeds available to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.

However, it has now said it is keen to build a case for creating a large-scale full-fibre network with Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology.

A formal consultation looks set to be opened in the summer, with communications providers being asked to share their views on demand for FTTP and the potential costs and benefits of rolling out the technology on such a scale.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach, commented: "We are committed to continuing our investment in the infrastructure Britain needs to support our thriving digital economy. 

"We want to work closely with communications providers to explore how we do that."

Mr Selley stated that with the right conditions, full-fibre connections could be made available to as many as ten million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s.

However, he said Openreach needs to know for sure if there is "sufficient demand to justify the roll-out and support - across industry, Ofcom and government - for the enablers needed to build a viable business case".

Openreach is also seeking views from stakeholders on what can be done to bring faster broadband speeds to 'not-spots' where people can only get speeds of less than 10Mbps.

Communications providers will be asked for ideas on the best ways to deploy an emerging broadband technology called Long Reach VDSL , which increases broadband speeds over long phone lines connected to its fibre cabinets.

Openreach believes this technology could help to deliver the government's policy objective of giving everybody in the UK the right to request a broadband speed of at least 10Mbps.

"Everyone in Britain should have access to a decent broadband speed, so we support the government’s moves to make that a reality," Mr Selley said.

"We’ve been working hard to develop faster, affordable ways to connect remote locations and we’ve been pleased with the initial technical field results of our Long Reach VDSL trials."

However, he said Openreach needs communications providers’ support to "make sure their customers can be upgraded and migrated smoothly to this new platform".

The infrastructure body is also looking to improve how it collaborates with customers, with one change being a process that allows communications providers to discuss new strategic initiatives with Openreach in private, ahead of any public consultation.

"Every communications provider in Britain can already access our national network on equal terms and conditions and I’m convinced that providing a mechanism to explore investment opportunities confidentially will lead to stronger relationships and more teamwork in addressing the major challenges we face as an industry," Mr Selley said.

This is the latest step in Openreach's move to establish itself as a more independent organisation.

Ofcom had sought changes to Openreach's governance as it was concerned BT still had control over its decisions, while other telecoms firms felt they were not adequately consulted on investment plans that would affect them.

Openreach will therefore be separated from BT and operate with its own staff, management, strategy and a legal purpose to serve all of its customers equally.

The company will be run by its newly-established board, the majority of which consists of directors independent of BT.

Openreach will also offer its own unique branding, with any traces of BT's branding removed to reflect its greater independence.

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