Broadband News

3 million Openreach full fibre premises planned by 2020

The original commercial superfast broadband roll-outs from Openreach included a lot more full fibre than was eventually delivered, but as the time and cost of delivery became apparent this was scaled back, jump forward a few years and after having learnt how to halve the cost of its fibre deployment to premises we have the welcome news that Openreach is accelerating its current 2 million premises passed by FTTP to 3 million premises passed with a delivery deadline of 2020.

With the current footprint sitting at a declared 500,000 (our count is 457,544) premises, adding another 2.5 million in two years means an impressive 100,000 per month are needed. We suspect that with the end of many of the big parts of the BDUK programme that more resources are now available to focus on their pure commercial work.

"We're accelerating our fibre to the premises build programme by 50% to reach 3 million homes by 2020. This sets us on the right trajectory to achieve our ambition of a 10 million FTTP footprint by the mid-2020's and, if the conditions are right, to go significantly beyond, and bring FTTP to the majority of homes and businesses across the UK."

Clive Selley, CEO Openreach

The roll-out is said to be starting in earnest in a few months and be focussed on eight cities Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

Some of these cities are already seeing FTTP, for example some premises in central Bristol already have access to FTTP, and in the last few days bits of the London West End such as around the National Gallery have been spotted with access to full fibre. To add some of the premises covered on the Whitehall exchange were previously Exchange Only lines, i.e. the fact that full fibre does not need a VDSL2 cabinet means EO lines can and are benefiting, just like all the roll-outs they are not coming to everyone all at the same time.

The press release from Openreach talks about passing 27 million homes and businesses with superfast broadband and has used this figure before, we believe that this means Openreach is working from a premise count of 30.2 million premises for the United Kingdom so long as the use of superfast is correct, this is significantly higher than our figure of 28.92 million and while we believe there is scope for the addition of 100,000 to 200,000 buildings no signs that we are over a million premises short. Ofcom works with a 29.3 million premise count. In our counting Openreach has passed 26.70 million premises with FTTC or FTTP which is why we mentioned a question mark around the use of the word superfast, and once you allow for the attenuation caused by distance access to 30 Mbps and faster drops to 25.83 million. So if there is a this difference what might be causing it, possibly counting premises with multiple physical phone lines based on the phone line count, adding infrastructure such as green street cabinets (100,000), telephone boxes and other things such as ice monitoring equipment and a myriad of street furniture where you can apparently order Openreach services to.

Update February 2nd The latest BT Group financial results for Q4 2017 have confirmed that the superfast Openreach footprint is 27.4 million premises, erasing any doubt that the figure for coverage in this article on expanded FTTP rollout was a combined all operator figure.

Update 9:45am CityFibre has reacted in what could be described as a robust manner with a statement on the expansion.

As a business founded to deliver a new digital infrastructure platform for the UK, we welcome any contribution, from any source, that supports a drive towards national coverage. Today’s announcement from Openreach is a clear response to competition from CityFibre and other alternative full fibre infrastructure builders.

It is clear that it’s in UK consumers’ and businesses’ best interests to deliver full fibre connectivity to the maximum possible number of premises in the shortest possible time and at the best possible value.

CityFibre and Vodafone is already leading the way, with a long-term strategic partnership that will bring ultrafast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to five million UK homes and businesses, approximately 20% of the UK market, by 2025.

It is recognised by government and Ofcom that the time has come to reduce the public’s dependency on Openreach. It is not in the UK’s best interest to encourage further entrenchment of the incumbent monopoly. As successfully demonstrated all over the world, it is a new generation of infrastructure builders that are best placed to deliver full fibre – able to deliver the next generation of digital connectivity faster and at lower prices than incumbent operators.

CityFibre statement on Openreach FTTP expansion

On the one hand we have CityFibre saying the Openreach announcement is in reaction to competition from CityFibre, suggesting competition may be a good way to drive firms to do more commercially, but on the other hand it is not in UK's best interest to encourage more roll-out of full fibre by Openreach. As for the new generation being faster to deliver and at lower prices, both of these are actually easier for new firms with new capital and no legacy problems like debt or pension liabilities and regulation that would quickly stop them from massively undercuting rivals. So we await the day we can state categorically that Openreach is not the largest FTTP provider in the UK. As for the monopoly remember that half the UK has a Virgin Media cable option and just below half for many years, as always only time will bring the answer as to how much the expansion by CityFibre and others who may be less brash is outside the existing footprint where Openreach is competing with Virgin Media already.

Update 1:35pm Hyperoptic who we believe is the second largest full fibre operator in the UK has sent out a statement on the Openreach announcement.

Hyperoptic welcomes naysayers Openreach to the Full Fibre table but find their motives and focus suspect. For years, Hyperoptic have been leading the Full Fibre transformation, ensuring that our cities are ready for their digital futures, while Openreach has focused on fibre to the cabinets and convincing the country that we’d never need more than 30 mbps.

During that same period, Hyperoptic has rolled out Full Fibre to 30 cities and enabled a digital transformation within those catchment areas. Indeed, 1 in 7 central London and Manchester residents have access to Full Fibre, and across the Openreach’s future phase 1 territories Hyperoptic already cover 10% of properties with plans already in progress for our greater vision. We re-iterate and confirm our target for 2m homes passed for 2020 and 5m for 2025.

We also call on Ofcom to ensure that the Fibre First announcement is not a distraction from fulfilling the strategy of 2016’s Digital Communications Review, which rightly concluded that the UK is best served with Infrastructure competition. Openreach must be regulated to use its own duct and pole product when implementing its FTTP roll out so there is equivalent opportunity to build FTTP networks at scale and that Fibre First isn’t just a marketing name for Openreach’s Fibre Monopoly.

Hyperoptic has demonstrated its ability and commitment to transforming broadband into future proofed digital connectivity. Our customers enjoy 1 Gb connectivity for 20% less than BT’s 300 Mb product and with a customer satisfaction score of over 92% its proof that a competitive infrastructure environment is good for consumers.

Lets get away from accepting short term solutions at the expense of the digital future of the UK.

Dana Tobak CBE, CEO and MD of Hyperoptic

Comments

But will this extension actually reach out to rural houses? I am NOT going to hold my breath on that one. My exchange is next door to an area where B4RN are about to build, and there are signs that they are prepared to talk about further extension with local landowners support.

  • mollcons
  • 10 months ago

Further expansion in rural areas is on the cards and as we've shown previously full fibre is proportionally more available in the rural areas of the UK already, just not your, but sounds like if B4RN expand then you'll be job done.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

I would like to have it confirmed that all current FTTC customers like myself will see a national roll-out of G.fast on all cabinets for the 100 & 300Mbps services. Is there any information provided anywhere by Openreach on plans for that at all?

If somebody could perhaps point me in the right direction if there is ?

  • Spitfire400
  • 10 months ago

The G.fast plans remain at the 10 million by 2020, of course plans can change and some FTTC cabinets may see FTTP available via this commercial roll-out, i.e. the FTTP roll-outs are NOT JUST about getting superfast out there.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

Places around here out in the sticks seems to be getting FTTP, more so than the City. My only problem is listening to the radio this morning, someone from Openreach was saying that once FTTP is in, then FTTC will be discontinued or that is what it sounded like. That would mean prices would go up again. I am fine with my 30 Mb/s and even if I could get a higher speed now, I would not bother if it costs more. so I certainly would not be in a rush to go for full Fibre if I had to pay more.
if I had better speed on ADSL I would have stayed with that.

  • zyborg47
  • 10 months ago

The Cityfibre reaction is interesting. If Ofcom and the government's objective of increase FTTP coverage drives OR to accelerate its fibre deployment rate, and cities are clearly where can be achieved most cost-effectively, it imperils the business plans of altnets seeking to do much the same thing.

OR have a some advantages here. Not just in the amount of passive infrastructure but, more importantly, the major ISPs whose (Sky, TalkTalk & BT) whose systems and processes already integrate. It takes scale to make that worthwhile & OR will be well advised to keep them on board.

  • TheEulerID
  • 10 months ago

I should also add that it's clear Cityfibre are implicitly stating that they want government or regulatory action to handicap OR in some way where it comes to city fibre deployments to give them a chance. That was done explicitly in the case of the cable networks where local monopolies were granted and BT prevented from putting competitive network infrastructure. That clearly won't happen, but there may be other means. One such is if OR were found to be in breach of competition law by offering FTTP below cost, or maybe Ofcom would look at "margin squeeze" tests.

  • TheEulerID
  • 10 months ago

Maybe someone would like to ask Connecting Devon and Somerset why they are funding the overbuild of Truespeed in Biddisham and Openreach in Christon.

  • Somerset
  • 10 months ago

If FTTC is removed, then it would only happen if all providers agree, and as Sky/TalkTalk/Vodafone do not sell GEA-FTTP products now that would need to change.

NOTE: GEA-FTTP is the same monthly pricing for the up to 38 and up to 52 and up to 76 Mbps products, so a sideways move should not see price going up, but you'd get a speed boost since the losses due to VDSL2 distance would be gone. This might for providers with tight bandwidth budgets lead to a small price increase to pay for more capacity of course.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

25.83% confused me for a minute. Do you mean 25.83 million?

  • lenham343
  • 10 months ago

The errant % instead of million issue has been fixed.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

Andrew. The OR press release just says the Gov announced 95% and this is 27m which is momentous, not that OR pass 27m. This is correct and aligns with your 28.5m Premises.

I worked for Clive some years ago before he had risen to the top! and he is good enough to know the difference and has the vision to see ( and use) the whole picture, whether he is aiming at the 1.5m that are not passed at present depends on the economics. see 2

  • jumpmum
  • 10 months ago

2. Many rural will be cheaper to hit than city centres, but new builds may make a lot ( 500-600k) of the increase up, the push to move all new builds to FTTP was one of his first changes when he moved to OR and has made a significant impact on FTTP rollout. You will be noticing much more as this change comes to fruition over the next 12 months with your ever increasing spotting of FTTP becoming a chore each month!

  • jumpmum
  • 10 months ago

As this is a commercial roll-out, is there any indication what the criteria for choosing areas is? Personally I want to see EO lines and ADSL exchanges at the top of the list, but as these have been largely ignored so far because they are not economic to upgrade I assume they will remain a low priority.

  • sheephouse
  • 10 months ago

@jumpmum Reading back the multiple press releases and statements in my inbox in light of your view, can see how it may well be saying that, maybe it was too early and lack of sunlight, or I've done what many may have done and read the 27 million as 27 million Openreach.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

@sheephouse Will EO/ADSL be top of the list? Some will, some won't since things like lack of ducting, wayleaves and other issues all come into play.

Not being economic for VDSL2 has different factors to not being economic for FTTP, so some commercial cabs rejected due to power or locating a cabinet might see FTTP under the new commercial roll-out.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

@sheephouse

Of course this is a commercial roll-out. Why anybody should think anything different, I don't know. When/if a regulatory regime appears that provides some incentive to invest that way, then that might change. If politicians want some other criteria to be used, then they are going to have to change the commercial landscape or provide for some other form of public intervention.

  • TheEulerID
  • 10 months ago

Everyones seem to forget one thing. What happen to the future of FTTPoD (suppose to be today of new pricing but no ISP's has metion it yet about the future FTTPoD?

  • adslmax
  • 10 months ago

Not holding my breath that this will improve my connection.

  • Desmond
  • 10 months ago

@ADSLMax because FoD was never meant to be a million premises plus product, but a way for those with spare cash to jump the queue.

Some do attach a lot of importance to FoD, and for those with the money yes it is important, but to the millions without spare savings it is a distraction to getting more competitively priced full fibre services out into the wild.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

For those in city "not-spots", there's something in this article in the Guardian that part of the game is to address those, with the recruitment of more engineers.

"BT is to create 3,000 engineering jobs this year as part of a plan to speed up the rollout of fibre broadband and eliminate “not-spots” in cities and suburban areas."

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/01/bt-openreach-hire-3000-engineers-drive-to-fill-broadband-not-spots

  • TheEulerID
  • 10 months ago

The BT Group financial results are very clear, the Openreach superfast footprint is 27.4 million premises (and this is taking distance into account), so the premise count issues I raised stand.

An illustration of the range that can exist is CityFibre describing up to five million premises as 20% of UK premises market, when its 17.3% by our figures. Of course they may be rounding the percentage for simplicity.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

But what does all this mean for EO lines?
or is it just more BS and they are only going to upgrade peeps with fibre already?

  • plc143
  • 10 months ago

It means some will see FTTP and some already are.

The better question is my EO get an upgrade? Answer - impossible to say with any confidence, but it is happening for some already.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

Don't think it will do anything for 'too far from the cabinet', when the old cable with many joints is laid direct in ground, so no ducting.

  • brianhe
  • 10 months ago

Thank you for the reply andrew.

i will just have to wait some more,8 yrs and counting.

  • plc143
  • 10 months ago

I've got a main fibre cable running right past my house - its five foot away and runs alongside the copper line along with the cable provider (now VM) cable and past the duct to my house - I have a BT pole and manhole outside.

Surely I could be one of those 3 million? Splice the Fibre Optic, remove the (VM) cable, fit new fibre optic cable in the ducting and into the house. Attach Fibre modem and hey presto FTTP

Well I can dream.

  • stoswald
  • 10 months ago

@Stoswald you cannot just remove a cable from another operators duct, as for splicing into an existing fibre depends on where it goes from and too and if a major 144 fibre cable for example splicing in would most likely mean a drop in service for everything on the bundle while your break in is added. FTTP is all about planning the breakout points so that you are not constantly breaking and rejointing the fibres.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

Rurals would be best off with 4G/5G, BT should aim to cover as many people as possible with FTTP, not few outlying areas.

  • DrMikeHuntHurtz
  • 10 months ago

@Dr Mike
You will often find those in rural areas are given FTTP by BT as its cheaper than FTTC. This is especially true for sparsely located clusters of properties, eg it might be cheaper to provide FTTP to a cluster of 10 properties rather than building a FTTC cabinet for them.

  • baby_frogmella
  • 10 months ago

No doubt the investment will be to provide even faster speeds to those already adequately served, everyone else not even coming close to the USO will be ignored and told to 'fund their own solutions' because Openreach simply cannot be bothered.

  • M100
  • 10 months ago

I've never understood why they can't just attach the fibre cable to the telephone polls outside our houses? We already have copper telephone wires all over the street on polls. Whats the big expense here in laying fibre to the green cabinet 50 meters at the top of the road?

  • doowles
  • 10 months ago

@Doowles They do precisely this in some areas i.e. overhead fibre, but the fibre will need to go back to an aggregation node, i.e. where the GPON network has reached so far in an area, so the 50 metres might be that or it might be 2 km.

The expense is things like time taken getting to top of each pole, fitting the fittings to hang the fibre and connect different lengths together, crossing roads, getting shrubbery cut back, unsafe for climbing poles replaced, safe working e.g. cherry pickers, traffic management etc

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

@doowles
<<Why can't they "just"...>>

Short answer: Money. Every "just" costs billions.

In this case, you can't "just" add fibre to the pole. You need to connect it back to the exchange equipment. And then you need to repeat 30 million times.

In very simplistic terms, connecting every green cabinet (there are 90,000) to the exchange (an average of 3km) needs 270 million metres of fibre.

Connecting the poles (4 million) to the green cabinet (an average of 300m) needs 1,200 million metres.

Connecting premises (30 million) to the pole (average 30m) needs 900 million metres.
...

  • WWWombat
  • 10 months ago

So far, with FTTC, they've done the first part, but its not even 20% of the job. It is the easiest, cheapest section to do because there are relatively few cabinets.

When connecting one property to one pole, the job looks easy. The problem comes when you have to scale things up a bit.

  • WWWombat
  • 10 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
In the the amount of time 2020 for Openreach to hit the 3000000 customers they will either have to cable out from the FTTC nodes or use just in time method by advertising post codes that are easy to access for the fibre crews to hit these that will be in the range of .5..6 (24 Meg) of a miles as I would think that there are many spare fibres at the FTTC nodes (80000). There will be many that will be feed by clear ducting and overhead poles. Openreach will go cherry picking and chase the. Money.

  • Blackmamba
  • 10 months ago

FTTP is built out from aggregation nodes and there is a lot less than 80,000 of these nodes.

Just in time is not internationally recognised as premises passed by full fibre, so areas like that would not count towards the 3 million, in the same way that the CityFibre metro network does not count.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 months ago

Hi Andrews.
If your are building out from the Aggregation Node you can go in all directions thus covering many post codes and even other Cabs this gives a larger coverage this i feel would class as premises passed. I would think to provide a new Aggregaion point in a fibre run would not be labour demanding the last one I saw was 5 Hours this was at Copdock.

  • Blackmamba
  • 10 months ago

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