19 million milestone achieved around 21 months ahead of original target
BT's open fibre network passes more than 19 million homes and businesses, the company announced today. This means around two thirds of UK premises can order much faster broadband from a wide variety of ISPs, all of whom have benefited from the billions of pounds BT has spent on upgrading its network.
BT originally said it would cover 19m premises with fibre by the end of 2015. It passed that total in March this year, around 21 months earlier than planned, with the vast majority of that footprint being enabled by BT under its commercial plan. The remainder has been enabled in partnership with the public sector.
The achievement is testament to the ongoing hard work and commitment of BT’s engineering and planning teams. They have ensured the UK has benefited from one of the fastest roll outs of fibre anywhere in the world.
That progress was shown in a recent independent report which showed the UK has the widest fibre availability of the EU 'big 5' countries as well as the highest take up of the technology and the most competitive marketplace.
UK fibre availability currently stands at 73 per cent of premises when all networks are taken into account. This widespread availability compares with just 20-25 per cent for France.
BT's fibre footprint is set to grow considerably in the year ahead as it continues its commercial roll out and enables further areas with the assistance of the public sector.
Much of this work will take place under the 44 local partnerships that BT has struck as part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. Work is underway in all 44 contract areas and more than 630k largely rural premises have been passed with fibre to date under the programme.
Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive, BT Group said: “Fibre broadband is the future and BT has invested billions of pounds to ensure as many people as possible can benefit. The early achievement of this milestone marks the culmination of several years of hard work by our engineers and planners. They have pulled out all the stops to bring fibre to a vast expanse of the country over a very short period and I would like to thank them for their efforts and commitment.
“Great progress has been made but we aren't stopping here. We need to ensure as many people as possible have access to fibre and that is why our engineering teams are working hard to extend the digital superhighway into rural areas.
"The UK broadband market is intensely competitive and consumers are enjoying fantastic value for money. Broadband speeds have increased dramatically over the last decade whereas prices have tumbled. Customers are the winners."
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK now has the widest fibre availability of the top five European economies as well as the highest take up rate. Commercial operators like BT, with support from Government, are delivering one of the fastest roll outs of fibre in the world and these figures demonstrate that the Government’s aim to provide access to superfast speeds to 95% of the UK by 2017 is well on track.”
BT revealed strong-take up of fibre at its full year results today, with 347,000 new premises taking fibre over its network during the fourth quarter. This equates to a new fibre customer roughly every twenty seconds, 24/7.
Those new customers have taken the Openreach fibre broadband customer base to more than 2.7m. This has almost doubled from a year ago.
More than 6m UK premises currently subscribe to fibre when all networks are taken into account. This level of take up is considerably ahead of many other European countries.
UK consumers and businesses are benefiting from a wide choice of suppliers given Openreach's network is open to all ISPs on the same terms. This intense competition at a retail level has resulted in the UK boasting the cheapest prices for fibre out of the major countries.