Broadband News

Ofcom area 3 pricing proposals reveal Openreach to build to 3.2 million rural FTTP premises

Today we learn that Openreach is set to build its wholesale FTTP network to some 3.2 million premises in rural areas of the United Kingdom.

The news emerged as part of Ofcom lays out its proposals for regulation in area 3 of the UK. Area 3 being the catchy name for the geographic. part of the the UK that are considered to be less competitive.

In more sparsely-populated rural areas, where there is limited prospect of multiple networks being built, we plan to incentivise investment by BT’s network arm, Openreach – the only operator with a large-scale rural network.

In January, we said that if BT were to provide a firm commitment to build fibre in these parts of the country, we would consider allowing it to include these investment costs in its prices upfront. If not, we would only allow it to recover these costs after it lays new fibre.

Openreach has since committed to build fibre to at least 3.2 million rural properties. So we are consulting on revised proposals on how we will set Openreach’s wholesale prices for these areas. If Openreach does not meet this commitment, we can set lower wholesale prices in future to reflect this.

Ofcom on regulation and Openreach commitment

3.2 million premises with Openreach FTTP represents around half the rural footprint of the UK, i.e. working on the usual split that 80% of the UK is urban and 20% rural. The rural England and Wales footprint is currently 5.5 million premises our figures from 19th July show the Openreach FTTP footprint at 10.13% (with the all the other FTTP providers it rises to 14.65%), this is against an urban picture of 7.97% Openreach FTTP and 14.25% for all the providers combined.

Openreach probably has some idea where the 3.2 million premises will be, but for now it is roughly a 50/50 gamble, which is much better odds than a few days ago. This 3.2 million premises forms part of the larger 20 million ambition that Openreach is aiming to complete in the mid to late 2020's.

The 3.2 million is the commercial footprint, so the £5 billion the Government has set aside to fund operators to build in the 20% where its estimated commercial operators will not reach with Gigabit or FTTP services might be a bit smaller with the news today. Now back to finding out where Openreach has built its network and the public can order.


Great news for rural areas. Is it likely to complicate the plans for the £5 billion now that there will be a commercial provider in some areas? Are there any dates for when the areas will be identified, or build targets?

  • sheephouse
  • 7 months ago

Ah, I see that they have actually released an update list of areas to be covered by 2024/25, so it should be possible for the £5B to be directed at other areas.

  • sheephouse
  • 7 months ago

Important to say that just because an area is on the list does not guarantee 100% coverage.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 7 months ago

Post a comment

Login Register