The UK’s largest broadband network operator, Openreach, has made a commitment to fulfil the ‘final third’ of the UK with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband, commonly known as ‘full fibre’.
The announcement follows a recent consultation with Ofcom, where fresh plans were drawn up to ensure Openreach can provide ultra-reliable and gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest-to-reach homes and businesses in the country.
It’s the latest step in a nationwide operation, pushed by the government, to service every premises in the UK with FTTP by the late 2020s — an investment that aims to boost the country’s economic output and significantly cut CO2 emissions.
Openreach, which is owned by BT Group but now operates independently, estimates these ‘hard-to-reach’ areas will be fully serviced by 2026, and has published an extensive list of all the locations this project aims to connect.
CEO of Openreach, Clive Selley, said: “This year we’ve all seen the importance of having a decent broadband connection and at Openreach, we’re convinced that Full Fibre technology can underpin the UK’s economic recovery.
“Right now, we’re building a new, ultra-reliable full-fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come. It’s Ofcom’s proposals that give us the right conditions to build commercially in the hardest to reach areas.
“We’re determined to find inventive engineering solutions and effective partnership funding models to reduce costs and enable us to connect as many communities as possible across the UK without public subsidy.”
Openreach has listed 251 market towns and villages in the UK’s ‘final third’ to be at least mostly serviced by the mid-2020s, as part of its wider Fibre First programme. See if your postcode is covered by the scheme by searching on its full fibre availability page.
It’s worth keeping in mind that just because Openreach is building full fibre infrastructure across the country, doesn’t mean that other FTTP providers are already building — or have already built — full fibre in your area. And at just 15% of UK homes, its coverage nationwide is still quite low, so it might be a while before it becomes available to you.
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Fibre-to-the-premises broadband is the technical term for ‘full fibre’. It’s the fastest type of broadband currently available, and gets its name from the type of connection it uses.
Most homes in the UK use either ADSL or fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) broadband, which both rely on copper phone lines to complete some or all of the connection. Average broadband speeds are 11Mbps on ADSL and 50Mbps on FTTC.
Fibre-optic broadband cables can transmit much more data than copper wires, so there’s a huge speed difference when the entire connection is serviced through fibre. FTTP broadband connects fibre-optic cables directly to your property, so can provide you with ultrafast speeds from 100Mbps all the way to gigabit speeds of 1Gbps (equivalent to 1000Mbps).
This would likely future-proof the broadband demands of almost every property in the UK for decades.
FTTP broadband is here to stay. It’s a vast improvement upon all existing broadband technology, and its rollout alongside 5G is expected to bring unprecedented internet speeds that’ll have our needs covered for a very long time.
But there are also a lot of additional benefits to this level of broadband speed. Not only do Openreach, Ofcom and the government believe that nationwide full fibre would boost UK productivity by £59bn every year, but the impact it will have on working from home could help to improve society as a whole.
As millions of us would have experienced back in March, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown forced a huge proportion of the UK’s workforce to work from home, and as a result companies are re-evaluating the need for compulsory office attendance once things return to normality.
This change of habit will feed greatly into the benefits of nationwide full fibre broadband. Openreach said it could mean that:
While it might seem tempting to wait for full fibre to become available in your area, you shouldn’t just hold onto your current deal until it does. Operations this ambitious often come with a few delays, and the deadline for nationwide coverage is still several years away.
Most broadband contracts last between 12 and 24 months, so chances are you could still switch to a better deal at least a couple of times before FTTP eventually reaches you, and you get to avoid expensive out-of-contract prices at the same time.
Whether you’re looking for a cheaper broadband package, faster speeds or just a better service, we have a wide range of deals suited to your needs. Compare broadband deals with Uswitch.