Openreach have announced that Salisbury will be the first city in the UK to be entirely covered by ultrafast fibre optic broadband.
As part of their ‘Fibre First’ programme, the BT-owned company aim to have the city fully connected by April 2020. The project intends to offer fibre optic broadband to around 22,000 homes and business across Salisbury. The rollout will deliver Fibre-to-the-Premises technology, which works by transmitting the broadband connection directly from the telephone network to the property.
The small city in Wiltshire, with a population of just over 40,000, was chosen as the ideal place to introduce city-wide coverage of the technology as it only has one telephone exchange. The project is expected to cost around £8 million, which equates to about £363 per property. If successful, every home and business in the city will have access to superfast broadband from next year.
“Salisbury has a unique and inspiring history – from its medieval sites to its thriving cultural sectors, it’s an icon of our national heritage – and now we’re laying the foundations for an even more exciting future,” said Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach. “For Salisbury’s homes, shops, GP surgeries and schools, it will mean fewer broadband faults, faster connections, and a consistent reliable network that will serve the city for decades to come. From home-working to healthcare, digital trade to entertainment, the possibilities that a full fibre network can bring are almost limitless.”
Currently, only around 4% of the UK has access to FTTP fibre optic broadband. The industry regulator Ofcom have previously called on Openreach to do more to improve access and widen the reach of the technology. The firm plans to bring superfast broadband to 3 million properties by the end of 2020, while it’s also targeting 10 million premises to have the technology by 2025.
“This will underpin a very significant improvement in UK productivity,” said Selley. “It will allow people to create new data-intensive businesses and it will enable people to work from home.”
The government wants every household in the country to have access to fibre optic broadband within the next 15 years, and they welcomed Openreach’s project in Salisbury.
“The growing speed with which we connect online with our families, friends and work colleagues, not only brings us closer together, but it also provides huge benefits for our economy,” said Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. “I’m delighted that Salisbury will be the first UK city to gain universal access to the gold-standard of the internet – ultrafast full fibre – making it one of the most cutting-edge cities in the country.
“It’s vital that every family and business across the country can benefit from this new technology, which is why we’ve committed to deliver a nationwide full fibre network by 2033.”
News of the rollout was also welcomed locally, with Salisbury MP John Glen pointing towards the benefits it will bring to the city.
“Full fibre will significantly improve the attractiveness of Salisbury for companies looking for a location with cutting-edge connectivity, boosting the number of high-quality job opportunities for constituents,” said Glen. “With speeds of 1Gbps, I very much look forward to seeing how this investment will transform opportunities for local residents and businesses, as well as driving innovation in the provision of public services.”