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BT Openreach says it's reached 25 million homes with fibre broadband

Monday, April 11th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Openreach’s fibre-based broadband network has passed 25m premises.

The company started rolling out fibre to the cabinet broadband in July 2009 and has reached an average of 70,000 premises each week over the past six years.

Its engineers have upgraded more than 4,700 telephone exchanges in that time and have installed thousands of fibre street cabinets across the UK.

Around 21m premises have been passed as part of BT’s commercial rollout plans.

The remaining four million properties have been reached as a result of the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

BDUK is thought to be on track to hit its target of providing 95% of UK premises with access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: “The UK is making great progress with fibre broadband.

“Availability and take up are well ahead of most European countries and I’d like to thank the thousands of Openreach engineers who have worked so tirelessly to make this happen.

“The job isn’t finished however and we are working hard to get coverage to 95% and above. We are also exploring how we can improve speeds for the million or so premises in the final few per cent of the country.

“Our approach has delivered affordable superfast services to the vast majority of the country in the fastest possible time. We want to build upon that by making ultrafast broadband available to most of the UK.”

Openreach, and its parent company BT, are planning to do that by 2020 using a combination of G.fast technology – a mix of fibre cables and copper wires – and fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband.

Mr Selley said FTTP would mainly be used to connect new developments, business parks and small businesses on high streets.

G.fast trials

Last month, Openreach announced it had added two new pilot sites – in Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire and in Gillingham, Kent – to its G.Fast trial programme.

It also said it would provide FTTP infrastructure to new housing developments with more than 250 homes, free-of-charge.

While the government and BT have trumpeted the progress of superfast broadband rollout, MPs and campaign groups have voiced concerns that not enough is being done to connect those people who will be left without broadband.

Earlier this year, a 'not-spot' summit was held in response to a proposal from Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman.

Mr Warman and fellow MPs had warned that without serious investment to connect the so-called 'final 5%', the government was risking isolating entire communities and creating a digital divide between those who are connected and those who aren’t.

BT has also previously come under fire from the Public Accounts Committee, whose former chair Margaret Hodge and fellow members suggested in the past that the company had 'cherry picked' the most lucrative and least challenging areas first, with some rural communities left unable to feel the benefits of the publicly-funded investment in the programme.

A consultation is currently underway into how to introduce a new Universal Service Obligation (USO), giving everyone in the country the right to a broadband connection of 10Mbps.

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