by Countryside Alliance

Openreach commits to the largest full-fibre broadband build in the hardest to reach 'final third' of the UK - boosting the country's post-COVID economic recovery.

Openreach today outlined plans to make ultra-reliable and gigabit-capable broadband available to more than three million homes and businesses in some of the UK's hardest to serve communities. This follows a new consultation from industry regulator Ofcom, published today, where it proposes that such a build commitment from Openreach is sufficient for them to extend connectivity to the 'final third' of the UK, which Ofcom estimates to be 9.6 million homes and businesses. 

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance said: "This commitment will provide a great economic boost for rural areas, where it's clear connectivity has traditionally lagged behind more urban areas. As we have seen during the COVID pandemic, digital connectivity has been essential for the millions who are home schooling and working from home. If we are all to play our part in rebuilding the economy, then good digital connectivity is absolutely essential, so we welcome this important move."

This build forms part of a massive £12 billion investment which will see Openreach's ambition to build 'Full Fibre' to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s. This will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits for rural and urban communities. The company is also publishing an extended list of 250 locations in the final third where it will build the new network over the next three years, including the likes of Millom, Thurso, Ballycastle and Aberystwyth.

Openreach CEO, Clive Selley, said: "This year we've all seen the importance of having a decent broadband connection and at Openreach, we're convinced that Full Fibre technology can underpin the UK's economic recovery.

"Right now, we're building a new, ultra-reliable full-fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come. It's Ofcom's proposals that give us the right conditions to build commercially in hardest to reach areas. 

"We're determined to find inventive engineering solutions and effective partnership funding models to reduce costs and enable us to connect as many communities as possible across the UK without public subsidy.

"Openreach is leading the charge to help Government achieve its target of making gigabit capable networks available nationwide by 2025. And we hope that by publishing our own plans, we can help ensure that taxpayers only fund connections in communities that really need public support."

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