Openreach, the BT-owned group responsible for much of the UK’s broadband network infrastructure, has announced plans to expand its super-fast broadband service to 81 more locations. Under the new plans, the service will cover more than one million homes and businesses across the UK.
Manchester, London and Birmingham were among the 81 locations and will be added to the 250 locations where the service currently exists.
Openreach has announced that it will integrate its Gfast technology on top of existing infrastructure over the next nine months. This means affected homes and businesses will gain speeds of up to 330 Mbps, which Openreach says is seven times the current UK average.
Gfast works by passing more fiber from the existing telephone exchange to a street cabinet. It then sends a stronger signal over existing copper lines in homes and businesses.
While Fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections are faster and more scalable, Openreach said the Gfast route would allow for much faster deployment.
So far, Openreach has brought faster broadband to 1.9 million premises in the UK, using a combination of FTTP and Gfast. The telecommunications giant said that by the end of 2020, the company expects to have three million premises connected.
By the mid-2020s, Openreach said it would have introduced Gfast to 5.7 million properties and FTTP to ten million, provided “if the conditions are right to invest.”
Formerly part of BT, Openreach is now a wholly owned but independently managed division of the BT Group. With a workforce of 30,400 people and revenues of $ 5.1 billion, Openreach has become the major force in UK broadband infrastructure.
The government’s announced ambition – that the UK will need 15 million FTTP connections for residential properties by 2025 – puts increasing pressure on Openreach as it faces competition from companies such as CityFibre , Hyeroptic and Gigaclear to deploy all-fiber services across the UK.