Reaching Last 10% of UK with Full Fibre Will Cost £4,000 Per Premises, Openreach Says

Connecting the last 10% of UK premises to a full fibre (FTTP) network will require investment of £4,000 per location, Openreach has said.

The owner and operator of most of the UK’s broadband infrastructure has committed to reaching four million premises with its full fibre network by Mach 2021, with a further goal of connecting 15 million by 2025.

The UK has targeted universal full fibre coverage by 2033. New Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to push up the timeline to 2025, although the industry has warned that goal may be unfeasible without significant public investment and transformation of policy.

Openreach’s FTTP network has reached around 1.5 million premises, with new installations reaching a rate of 20,000 a week. Meanwhile, alternative full fibre providers have reached an additional 1.3 million sites and aim to cover 15.96 million homes and businesses themselves by 2025.

Openreach says it has the aspiration to reach the majority of the UK itself, should the “right conditions to invest” be in place. But it has warned that the investment to reach the last 10% of premises could hit nearly £4,000 per connection.

That’s higher than the costs telecoms regulator Ofcom modelled for FTTP deployment in June. Ofcom forecast that the first 20 million UK premises could be reached for connection costs of under £500 per premises, but would rise sharply after that point, with the final 10% of locations requiring capital expenditure of £2,500 per capita.

Openreach has estimated costs will be higher for the most remote and rural homes and businesses and suggested public funding would be necessary.

Philip Jansen, CEO of BT Group, which owns Openreach, said: “Public funding will probably be needed to bring FTTP to the hardest to reach 10% of the UK population and to address enduring mobile not spots. It is crucial at this that this public funding that is used as efficiently and effectively as possible without undue bureaucracy and duplication to make sure that the UK gets the maximum digital bang for its buck.

“We agree that full fibre can be the platform for the UK’s future prosperity and we’re determined to lead the way. No company is doing more,” he added.

The government has yet to reveal updated plans for reaching the new 2025 target for universal full fibre coverage proposed by Johnson.

Lauren Smith
Written by 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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