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March 11, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 7:05am

Openreach embraces fibre and expands trials, as UK superfast coverage hits 90%

News: Infrastructure provider has taken on board Ofcom's demands for a 'new fibre future'.


Openreach is expanding its coverage of fast broadband, including and fibre, as the UK crosses its targets of 90 percent superfast broadband coverage.

The broadband infrastructure provider will conduct trials of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) in Bradford in Yorkshire, providing businesses in Kirkgate High Street and Listerhills Science Park with speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

New housing developments with more than 250 premises will get FTTP infrastructure built in for free. A scheme to provide the connectivity will also be available through joint funding options to smaller developments.

Openreach also announced that it would expand its trials of technology to new pilot sites in Cambridgeshire and Kent.

This will reach Cherry Hinton in Cambridgeshire and Gillingham in Kent.

Since August, trials have been taking place in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The news comes after Ed Vaizey, minister for the digital economy, announced in a parliamentary debate that the UK had reached its goal of covering over 90 percent of the country with superfast broadband.

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"I’m determined to roll out ultrafast broadband, and technology is the best way to deliver that to the majority of the UK as quickly as possible," said Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach.

"We also plan to roll out significantly more fibre-to-the-premises, and we’re trialling a range of options in Bradford to use that technology increasingly in future – wherever it makes sense."

Extending the range of frequencies available through existing copper networks, provides ‘ultrafast’ broadband speeds, defined as speeds of 100Mbps or over.

BT claims it delivers speeds of up to 330 Mbps, which is over ten times the current UK average.

The advantage is that fibre does not need to be rolled out to the home to provide higher connectivity speeds, which can be costly.

Gigabit broadband through fibre is offered through high-speed operators such as Hyperoptic. CityFibre and Gigaclear.

Openreach is making it clear that it wants fibre to form a greater part of its coverage in the future, as the Bradford trial shows.

This comes after the Ofcom Digital Communications Review was announced last month, which did not call for Openreach to be split off from the BT Group as many parties had feared and hoped.

Openreach’s greater embracing of fibre is probably a response to Ofcom’s desire, expressed in the report, that "the UK will move towards a new fibre future, with widespread availability of competing ‘fibre to the premise’ and cable networks to homes and businesses."

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