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Openreach aims for ultrafast broadband to reach another one million UK homes

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The UK’s digital network business Openreach announced its ultrafast broadband footprint expansion, with a plan to make faster and reliable services available to over a million homes and businesses in a further 81 locations across the country.

Cities such as London, Leicester, Manchester and Birmingham are among the 81 locations revealed, making up the next phase of the company’s build programme, which is set to be completed over the next nine months. This stage will add to the more than 250 locations where the technology has already been deployed.

Openreach says the multimillion-pound investment will make faster, more reliable broadband services available to residents and businesses, helping to boost local productivity and competitiveness, to reinforce the UK’s position as the leading digital economy in the Group of Twenty (G20).

Kim Mears of Openreach said: “Currently, the UK is a world leader in digital infrastructure and services, but as the digital revolution rushes forwards and the demand for data continues to grow, we need to make sure we stay ahead of the curve.

“That’s why we’re investing in faster, more reliable network infrastructure to facilitate all the activities we want to do now, and those we haven’t even dreamt of doing in 10 years’ time.”

Ultrafast broadband speeds can be delivered using both Gfast and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technologies, with Openreach’s announcement encouraging a wider investment programme in future-proof FTTP networks, which is on track to reach three million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.

Combining these two technologies, Openreach has already made ultrafast broadband available to more than 1.9 million premises across the UK.

Building on existing infrastructure, its new Gfast network intends to change the way broadband signals are transmitted from existing street cabinets to boost speeds up to 330Mbps (seven times today’s UK average), without the need to dig up roads and install new cabling, according to Openreach.

Furthermore, the company says these advancements will enable users to support simultaneous 4K video streams in every room of their house, with the new technology providing enough additional capacity to support future data-hungry services and applications, such as Virtual Reality gaming.

The technology can also provide for advances in smart homes, where a network of online sensors can coordinate and control home appliances, such as thermostats, security cameras to lock door and washing machines.

Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) has called from 15 million properties to be covered with fibre optic broadband by 2025 and for nationwide coverage to be completed by 2033.

Openreach plans to reach a total of 5.7 million properties using Gfast by 2020, with the company also saying that it aspires to expand its fibre to the home (FTTH) rollout to 10 million premises by the year advised by the FTIR, if it has the right economic conditions.

In August, local authorities were encouraged to submit bids for part of a £95m fund to improve local broadband, with the minister for digital, Margot James, saying the fund would aid the rollout of full-fibre broadband across the UK.

Furthermore, in July, the government encouraged housing developers to install full-fibre broadband cables in all new-build homes as part of efforts to ensure that the entirety of the UK can access superfast broadband speeds by 2033.

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