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Businesses benefiting from faster FTTP, with broader coverage, as part of ultrafast rollout

By Clive Selley, CEO Openreach

Clive SelleyAt Openreach, we're committed to taking the UK from being a superfast nation1 to an ultrafast one.

Businesses can already access ultrafast speeds via dedicated Ethernet lines. They're available from Openreach throughout the UK. We have an installed base of over 250,000 Ethernet circuits but we've now launched faster speeds over our Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to offer an alternative option at a lower cost.

Our FTTP network passes more than 345,000 homes and businesses. It's the largest in the UK and is open to all Communications Providers (CP) with the same prices, terms and conditions. Earlier this year, we announced that we'd double it in size over the next 12 months. It's part of our plan to make ultrafast speeds of 100Mbps+ available to up to 12m UK premises by the end of 2020, using a mix of fibre technologies. We'll give 10m premises access to technology and 2m to FTTP technology. It's an approach to get the fastest possible speeds to the largest number of people in the shortest possible time.

Broader coverage

By the end of March 2017, we'll have made ultrafast speeds available to 500k homes and businesses. We're going to be trialling in 17 pilot areas around the country and we've already begun work on expanding our FTTP footprint. Engineering work is currently taking place to make FTTP available to 3,200 small and medium sized businesses and 2,200 residential premises in the Bristol area. Other areas to benefit from our FTTP expansion include parts of Bath, Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford - as well as Westminster, Holborn and the City – in London.

Faster provisioning

At the same time, we've been trialling new processes and techniques to deploy FTTP more quickly and efficiently. The trials are successfully improving the way customers are connected and have cut installation times.

And while we're extending the reach of our FTTP network, we're also boosting the speed and variety of the services we can offer over it.

Faster services

We've been working closely with our CP customers to develop new ultrafast products. We're more than doubling the speeds available - boosting the maximum download speeds from 330Mbps to up to 1Gbps. The new, faster services will be available across the entire FTTP network.

We've launched two new wholesale GEA-FTTP products:

  • an up to 500Mbps product, with an upload speed of up to 165Mbps; and
  • an up to 1Gbps product, with an upload speed of up to 220Mbps.

We expect the new services will be of particular interest to small and medium businesses.

A pioneering breakthrough for the UK's digital infrastructure

But we're not stopping there. It's vital that we look to the future and prepare for ever-increasing data consumption over our network.

So we've been collaborating with Huawei and have become one of the first companies in Europe to field trial the simultaneous transmission of 2.5Gbps, 10Gbps and 40Gbps speeds over a single fibre optic cable using separate wavelengths. The trial involved an FTTP connection running between the University of Suffolk and the local exchange in Ipswich.

The trial is significant because it demonstrates not only how operators can flex to meet ultrafast speeds in the future, but also the latent capability of the Openreach network. And it proves that with the right equipment in the customer's premises and at the exchange, we can tailor speeds to suit their individual requirements.

I'm looking forward to discussing this breakthrough with our communications providers to see how it could help shape their future plans.


1 According to Thinkbroadband, more than 92% of homes and businesses in the UK currently have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above. The Openreach fibre network is available to 26m homes and businesses.

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