BT plans fibre rollout to 25 million premises following tax deduction
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BT has said it intends to bring direct fibre connections to 25 million premises by the end of 2026 following a tax deduction from the government.
The firm was granted a “super deduction” on its tax that will see it only pay “minimal” corporation tax in the UK for the next few years.
Its new pledge of supplying 25 million premises with fibre represents an increase of their previous goal to hit 20 million by the end of 2026.
In the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 election, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would have universal full-fibre broadband by 2025, although the plan was criticised as unrealistic by MPs.
Openreach, which is wholly owned by BT, plans to install fibre to around four million premises a year for the foreseeable future, starting immediately.
BT said it has the capacity to do this “entirely from internal resources” and it will not affect other priorities such as investing in 5G and its broader modernisation programme.
It largely credited the aforementioned tax deduction for enabling it to ramp up fibre installations. It paid corporation tax between £200m and £300m in past years but reported a dip in financial performance last year as the Covid-19 pandemic hit profits.
Philip Jansen, chief executive of BT Group, said: “BT is already building more full-fibre broadband to homes and businesses than anyone else in the UK. Today we are increasing our FTTP target from 20 million to 25 million homes and businesses to deliver further value to our shareholders and support the government’s full-fibre ambitions.
“This has three massive benefits: it allows us to go faster, beefing up our capacity to build fibre to households and businesses; it allows us to go further, getting fibre to more people including in rural communities, and it will help fuel UK economic recovery, with better connectivity and up to 7,000 new jobs.”
Ofcom recently found that the digital divide narrowed last year as more people were forced to use online services due to the pandemic.
However, the homes that remained offline were found to be even more “disempowered” than before.
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