36 new exchange areas add to Openreach Fibre First plans
The Openreach Fibre First programme is behind the major expansion in the local loop operators full fibre expansion in the last 12 months and another 36 areas are now on the list.
- Burgh Heath
- Carryduff & Castlereagh
- Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire
- Intake (Sheffield)
- St Albans
- Whitburn (West Lothian)
Some of the new areas are already indicated as the build being underway with others due to start in the next three months. Past experience of tracking the Fibre First roll-out shows that areas being in build does not always equate to premises having FTTP available to order, since some streets see the build complete but are waiting on other work such as spine cabling or handover capacity improvements before being flagged as available to order.
The Fibre First roll-out may have a significance in that these exchanges are likely to be the first ones where the copper switch off will take place, but similar looking roll-outs does happen on other exchanges, Failsworth being the largest example to date and Hunslet is another.
Exactly how many premises these new exchanges add to the potential full fibre footprint is not certain as we will need to teach our systems about the new exchanges, additionally the build is not always 100% of the named area.
The press release does highlight an issue that does affect all the full fibre operators and that is the business rates levied on fibre networks, Scotland has extended a rates relief scheme and if Westminster is serious about hitting a full fibre for all by 2025 then reducing or removing the business rate would help make commercial roll-outs more attractive financially. A reduction in business rates or a commitment to a long holiday while not speeding up an individual build may allow operators to employ more teams to build in more areas of the UK at the same time.
For those reading the Openreach press release and scoffing at the premises passed by fibre every 30 seconds, the maths behind this work since it suggests they are passing 2,880 premises every day and we generally find between 1,500 premises on a bad day and 5,000 premises where FTTP is available to order via communications providers selling the Openreach service.