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Openreach Full-Fibre Broadband Now Reaches 6.4m Premises

BT’s £15 billion project to bring full-fibre broadband to 80% of UK households is proceeding apace, with coverage hitting 6.4 million premises in December.

The new figures were revealed in a trading update from the BT Group, covering Q3 2021/22 (1 October - 31 December 2021). During the quarter, infrastructure arm Openreach connected an additional 662,000 addresses to gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband, up from 615,000 in the previous quarter. 

That’s around 50,000 new connections per week, up from 47,300 over the summer. Openreach forecasts that its build rate will eventually top out at 75,000 installations per week as it pushes toward 25 million connections by December 2026.

2 million premises in the current coverage are rural, Openreach says, part of its commitment to reach each 6.2 million rural or semi-rural addresses in total.

The update also reveals strong take-up of the new ultrafast broadband technology, which can be purchased through BT as well as wholesale partners Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Zen Internet, and others. In total, 1.508 million addresses have subscribed to full-fibre products across the ISPs, a healthy take-up of 23.41%.

BT attributed the boost in full-fibre take-up to its slashing of wholesale prices for the connections, although not all partner ISPs have passed on these discounts.

Chief executive Philip Jansen said: “We had another record-breaking quarter on our full fibre build and a pleasing 37% increase in FTTP connections following the launch of Openreach’s wholesale pricing offer.”

He also heralded BT’s progress in rolling out EE’s next-generation mobile network. “Our 5G build is also on track and now covers over 40% of the UK population with independently verified network leadership,” she said.

BT has pledged that EE’s 5G network will reach 50% of the UK’s population by next year and go on to achieve 90% geographic coverage by 2028.

Meanwhile, to compete with BT’s full-fibre rollout, Virgin Media has also dialled up its broadband ambitions. The arch-rival is seeking investment to take full-fibre broadband to 21 million homes and buisnesses, up from its current target of 15.5 million.

With builds from giants BT and Virgin Media topped up by smaller investments from alt networks, nine out of 10 UK households will be able to access full-fibre broadband by 2028, according to a new forecast from Credit Suisse.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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