Openreach has announced it is in the early stages of a plan to roll out ultrafast broadband to a significant number of homes and businesses.
At present, Openreach is aiming to provide at least 100Mb to 12 million properties by the end of 2020. However just 2 million of these would be advanced FTTP connections, while the rest would be delivered by G.fast technology, an upgraded version of our existing fibre broadband services which continues to rely on the copper telephone lines.
But Openreach is now saying it is mulling a more ambitious infrastructure program that will make greater use of fibre cables to provide tens of millions with cutting edge broadband.
Most fibre broadband currently available in the UK is FTTC - Fibre To The Cabinet. With this technology fibre optic lines terminate at street cabinets, and the connection into properties is handled with the old copper telephone wire. This has the advantage of being relatively cheap to install, but the speed - while a definite improvement over ADSL - is still limited compared to the FTTP network Openreach is considering.
Fibre To The Premises is "full fibre", and offers a significant performance upgrade. Those few ISPs currently offering FTTP services in the UK can provide speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, but crucially the technology is future proof and offers plenty of scope to expand should gigabit broadband begin to feel sluggish.
Openreach CEO Clive Selley said “With the right conditions we could make full fibre connections available to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s.”
A large scale FTTP network would be a huge improvement over current infrastructure and would help British businesses stay competitive, but these plans are still at a very early stage. Openreach will launch a consultation in the summer to gather feedback on the proposal and, more importantly, explore how it could raise the money for such an ambitious project.