Salisbury will be the UK's first ultrafast broadband city

21 March 2019   By Jo Bailey

Salisbury homes and businesses will have access to Gigabit capable connections within 13 months, say Openreach

Openreach has revealed the latest location to get an upgrade in internet speeds, with Salisbury picked to be the next focus of the 'Fibre First' project.

The upgrade will enable homes and businesses in the city to connect to Gigabit capable fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. With a target of just over a year for the full rollout, this promises to be one of the fastest network builds in the UK so far.

Openreach say they already have some FTTP connectivity in the city. In addition to this, their slower FTTC network has almost universal coverage. Other companies in the area include Virgin Media, who have a cable network in around 50% of the city.

fibre broadband

How fast is ultrafast?

A full fibre connection will provide speeds of up to 1GBps, or 1,000mbps. This is blisteringly fast compared to the current average speed in the UK of just 46.2mbps, and around 20 times faster than anything available in Salisbury today.

Faster broadband will mean downloads are faster and the network is more stable. Full fibre connectivity is no affected by the weather, so the network is likely to be far more reliable too.

Internet service providers have noted the growing demand for ultrafast broadband, as households needs and habits evolve to fit the modern lifestyle.

Of course, in order to access the ultrafast network, Salisbury residents will need to be signed up to a capable product. BT's ultrafast service is the obvious choice, but not the only provider by any means.

Other ISPs who use the Openreach network for ultrafast connectivity include Zen Internet, Freeola, iDNET and Cerberus Networks, among others.

How will the broadband be installed?

The delivery of a full ultrafast network for Salisbury won't happen overnight. With 20,000 homes to connect, it's likely to take around 13 months for the entire project to be rolled out.

Initially, Openreach say they will be focusing on the city centre, with expansion to the outskirts and surrounding villages potentially in the future.

Clive Selley, the CEO of Openreach, has commented on the complexities of the project. The medieval city, with its narrow streets, presents some unique challenges for the Openreach team, but he says they are 'confident that it's achievable'.

Openreach are working in partnership with the council to deliver the project. The company has said it will liaise closely with homes, businesses and schools to ensure minimal disruption for residents.

They say that it's the first time they've attempted to connect an entire city in just a year, making this their most ambitious project to date. The rollout is estimated to be costing in the region of £8m. This equates to roughly £363 per premises.

In order to deliver the project, Openreach will be recruiting 24 engineers from the local area. They have said they will look to those with a military background as well as those with traditional engineering skills as part of their recruitment drive.

The benefits for Salisbury

As well as the obvious benefits to domestic internet users, Salisbury and South Wiltshire MP, John Glen, has also highlighted the benefits it will have for businesses. "Full fibre will significantly improve the attractiveness of Salisbury for companies looking for a location with cutting-edge connectivity", he said.

Local businesses have commented that they often struggle with unstable connections and slow access to the internet, They believe a faster, more reliable connection will enable them to compete better with other businesses both in the UK and abroad.

The Fibre First project is part of the push to get the whole of Britain connected to FTTP networks by 2033. So far, Openreach have deployed FTTP to almost 900,000 premises, with 13,000 new connections every week.

The target for the project is to install three million connections by the end of next year, rising to 10 million by the middle of the 2020s.

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