Two of the country’s leading infrastructure providers have announced major extensions to their gigabit networks, with Openreach publishing plans to deliver gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband to 56 more locations, and CityFibre, the UK’s largest independent full-fibre platform, continuing its £15m digital transformation of Lowestoft on the eastern coastal region.
The UK government relaunched its national gigabit broadband programme in March 2021 with Project Gigabit, aiming to deliver next-generation gigabit broadband to more than a million homes and businesses in what are regarded as hard-to-reach places, in the first phase of an infrastructure project into which the government has invested £5bn.
However, a January 2022 report from the UK parliamentary Public Accounts Committee cast doubts over whether the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will meet even its downgraded target to roll out super-fast, gigabit broadband to 85% of the UK by 2025, noting that little traction had so far been made in so-called hard-to-reach places.
As part of its regular programme of build updates, BT-owned broadband provision firm Openreach has revealed it has added just under half a million homes and businesses, including both rural and urban areas, to its fibre network in new locations across the country, including Aylesford, Bishop Stortford, Cambridge, Dartford, High Wycombe, Hartlepool, Peterborough and Stockton. This means more than 2,700 towns, cities, boroughs, villages and hamlets are now included in the company’s build programme.
Openreach has now built full-fibre broadband to 7.2 million homes and businesses across the UK, including 2.3 million in places that it says are in the hardest to reach “final third” of the country. It added that its customer base has now reached 1.8 million homes and businesses now connected to the new network.
In addition, more than 40 communication providers (CPs), including the likes of BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone, have signed up to Openreach’s Equinox long-term wholesale full-fibre pricing offer, launched in October 2021. This will support CPs placing new orders on FTTP where available – helping to further drive full-fibre adoption.
Meanwhile, with construction moving into Carlton, Whitton and Oulton Broad in the coming months, CityFibre is adding to its growing presence in Lowestoft, where work is nearing completion in the north of the town.
Broadband providers TalkTalk, Air Broadband, Zen and Giganet are currently using CityFibre’s network to bring gigabit-capable broadband services to Lowestoft, with services now live for the first connected residents across Gunton and St Margarets, Harbour and Normanston, and much of Oulton Broad.
CityFibre’s UK launch partner Vodafone and local provider InTouch Systems will be launching services in the coming weeks.
“This is another significant step in what we see as a potential digital revolution for Lowestoft,” said Stephen Burroughes, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for customer services, operational partnerships and digital transformation.
“In 2019, we agreed plans to explore extending the Suffolk Cloud project to include homes and businesses, as well as public sector organisations in Lowestoft and nine other towns.”
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