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BT's quarterly newsletter for analysts, consultants and investors - Feature: Openreach - Better, broader, faster

Openreach – Better, broader, faster

Clive SelleyBy Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach

At Openreach, we're committed to delivering better service, broader coverage and faster speeds. We've got a plan to deliver a step change in customer experience, and an ambition to take our fibre coverage beyond 95% of the country and extend ultrafast fibre broadband through and Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) technology.

Better service

The internet has become increasingly central to people's lives. Customer expectations are increasing all the time and we know that we need to work hard to meet those new demands. We aim to deliver a step change in customer experience, meeting or exceeding Ofcom's minimum service levels and fixing key irritants:

  • We'll invest to improve network health.
  • We'll hire 1,000 new engineers this year and provide further multi-skill training for our engineers so there's more flexibility in the work they can do for customers.
  • We're aiming to halve missed appointments to 2.5% within a year, with an ambition to reduce them even further after that.
  • We're establishing a case management service team to step in and resolve problems for customers who've experienced two or more missed or unsuccessful appointments.
  • For businesses, our aim is to deliver 20% more Ethernet year on year, with delivery certainty and owners for complex circuits.

 Broader coverage

The UK is the leading digital economy in the G20 with the highest superfast broadband coverage and take up in the EU 'big five'. More than 90% of UK premises can access superfast broadband across all fixed networks and that is set to rise to 95% by the end of 2017.

BT's next wave of investment will help Openreach take UK superfast broadband coverage beyond 95%. We also stand ready to address slow speeds in the final few per cent of the country, should there be regulatory support for our plans.

Faster speeds – Taking the UK from superfast to ultrafast

Our ambition is to reach 12m premises with ultrafast services by 2020, 2m more than previously announced.

Ten million homes and businesses will receive ultrafast via, a technology which transforms the speeds customers can receive over a mix of fibre and copper. Customers taking part in our trials are currently receiving speeds of up to 300Mbps and these will reach up to 500Mbps in the next few years as the technology is deployed. Laboratory tests of XG-FAST, a future variant, have also shown that speeds of more than 5Gbps are possible over short copper lines, demonstrating that copper has a role to play for many years yet.

The other technology in the ultrafast mix is FTTP which will play an increasing role in our plans primarily in new developments, apartment block business parks, and high streets. Today Openreach has the largest FTTP network in the UK - More than 300,000 homes and businesses already have access to FTTP via Openreach's network, offering speeds up to 330Mbps.


Businesses can currently access ultrafast speeds via dedicated lines but these services are best suited to larger businesses. We recognise that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) want a more affordable alternative, so that's what we're going to give them.

We've been conducting further trials of FTTP technology in Bradford to prove we can reduce the cost of deployment, improve the customer experience and make it quicker to install. The trials have gone well so now that we've proved the new techniques, we're going to begin a wider rollout, starting with nine locations that will benefit from a new FTTP product specifically designed for SMEs.

The nine locations include parts of Bath, Bradford, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford - as well as Westminster, Holborn and the City – in London.

The new product will provide ultrafast speeds of up to 1Gbps. It'll be developed in the coming months, taking the views of our communication provider customers into account. The new network will be rolled out over the course of the next nine months and will focus on high streets, science and business parks and clusters of businesses that don't have access to fibre broadband from Openreach today. Communications providers will be able to offer ultrafast speeds to businesses from the end of December.

The expansion of the FTTP footprint will also eventually benefit hundreds of thousands of adjacent residential homes in the nine areas. This targeted approach will help to deliver the ambition we share with government to improve broadband speeds in the final 5% of the country.

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