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Openreach Full Fibre Reaches 5.2m Premises

BT confirmed that its rollout of full-fibre broadband, overseen by subsidiary Openreach, has crossed 5.16 million premises, on its way to reaching 25 million by 2026.

The footprint has grown from 4.6 million in the previous quarter, an addition of 560,000 premises in just three months. That’s a build rate of around 45,000 connections per week. Openreach will eventually increase this build rate to around 75,000, as the £15 billion rollout reaches its peak. 

The updates came in the BT Group’s results for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year (April to June). 

The results also revealed that 860,000 of BT’s broadband customers have signed up for full-fibre connections, showing strong take-up of FTTP where it’s available.

Of course, BT isn’t the only ISP offering tariffs on the gigabit-capable network. If your home is one of the 5.16 million reached by the network, you can also subscribe through Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Zen Internet and others. Across all these ISPs, 1,086,000 households and businesses have subscribed to full-fibre—a take-up of just over 21%, up from 19.6% in the previous quarter, showing that Britons have an appetite for faster broadband.

Meanwhile, Brits are moving away from slower ADSL connections. Among BT’s fixed broadband base, 82% of customers now subscribe to a superfast (30Mbps+) connection, delivered over fibre-to-the-cabinet technology. 6.6% subscribe to an ultrafast (100Mbps)+ connection, which includes full-fibre and products. 

That leaves just 11.4% of BT customers taking connections delivered entirely over copper phone lines. The ISP recently upgraded its social tariff, a discounted plan for households on benefits, to superfast fibre optic speeds.

Philip Jansen, chief executive of the BT Group, said the firm is “powering ahead with its network build programmes,” which include EE’s 5G mobile services. EE’s 5G build is proceeding apace despite the operator beginning to replace the Huawei equipment which undergirds both its 4G and 5G—a project that will cost £500 million and take six years. EE’s 5G is now available in 160 towns and cities, making more than 4 million Brits “5G ready” (of course, they have to be subscribed to EE and have a 5G-capable handset).

BT says EE's 5G will be available to 50% of the population by 2023 and achieve 90% geographic coverage by 2028.

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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