Openreach full fibre reaches 8.8 million premises

3 November 2022 16:49   By Lyndsey Burton

Openreach half year results show full fibre build has now passed 8.8 million premises, including 2.8 million in rural areas.

The second quarter results of Openreach's financial year, up to 30 September 2022, show they are rapidly expanding their fibre to the premises (FTTP) network, with a weekly build rate averaging 62,000 premises.

Openreach also confirm their intention to review wholesale pricing for broadband resellers in a bid to further accelerate the move to full fibre connections.

Further announcements have also been made that will see EE mobile included in Openreach's wholesale offering, allowing resellers to offer EE mobile SIM bundles alongside data-only fibre broadband lines.

openreach van
Credit: Peter_Fleming/

Openreach FTTP

The Openreach report lays clear the company's intention to rapidly expand their FTTP broadband network, saying they are 'firmly on track' to deliver their strategy, and making investment to 'sustain network leadership'.

Indeed, Openreach are now facing fierce competition from Virgin Media, as well as a range of other independent full fibre networks such as CityFibre and Hyperoptic.

While the Openreach FTTP build has now passed 8.8 million premises, with a further 6 million underway, Virgin Media are still a long way ahead, recently confirming their footprint of 16 million premises.

Yet, Openreach are builder quicker, connecting 331,000 premises in their second quarter, compared to 115,000 premises connected by Virgin Media over a similar period.

And Openreach may well overtake Virgin Media at some point, with their ambitious target to reach 25 million premises by 2026, exceeds the £4.5 billion investment plan for Virgin Media to connect a total of 23 million premises in the same timeframe.

While the networks will undoubtedly overlap, it could well be that Openreach lay more fibre cable in rural areas that Virgin Media may choose to overlook. So far, Openreach say they've passed 2.8 million rural premises with their FTTP broadband.

Full fibre take-up

Despite rapid network growth, take-up is still lagging behind, with just 27% of full fibre enabled households taking a full fibre broadband package from either BT or an Openreach reseller.

These take-up figures echo Ofcom's Connected Nations report, last published in full in December 2021, which estimated around 24% of customers who had access to ultrafast broadband had subscribed to it, in comparison to a 69% take-up rate of superfast broadband.

Openreach's half year report showed the company was adding around 25,000 customers to full fibre products each week, with a total of 1.4 million consumer FTTP connections, an increase of 50% year-on-year.

Yet, despite these take-up figures, Openreach also announced they needed to make an additional £5 billion of cost savings by the end of their 2025 financial year.

Wholesale repricing

The Openreach report also confirmed they would be reviewing wholesale pricing to accelerate the migration to FTTP.

Equinox 2 is likely to see reductions in wholesale network access for resellers, along with a decrease in the revenue share Openreach receives per customers, and also a reduction in the amount charged for moving customers from copper to fibre lines.

The new wholesale pricing is likely to be announced in December, with a planned implementation of April 2023, if it receives regulatory approval from Ofcom.

In addition to this, BT Group are also suggested to be looking at offering EE mobile services on a wholesale basis, with the idea that full fibre broadband providers can bundle EE mobile SIMs with their data-only full fibre lines.

Consumer cost

Despite potential price reductions through broadband providers reselling BT wholesale however, cost savings from BT Group are likely to involve increasing the prices they charge both on the BT Retail consumer side, and on the Openreach wholesale side, forcing resellers to also increase their prices.

Last year, we saw record broadband price rises of around 9.3% due to high levels of inflation, which prompted calls amongst consumer groups for Ofcom to ban mid-contract price rises, while a few providers still offer fixed deals.

Yet, it looks highly likely Openreach, among others, will be going ahead with their CPI + 3.9% price rises again in 2023, and with inflation currently at 9.9%, bills could see large hikes.


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