British Telecom PLC’s (LON:BT.A) broadband network arm OpenReach has unveiled plans to connect a further 3.2mln remote locations to superfast fibre over the next three years.
The pledge is part of a £12bn investment programme that will see ‘Full Fibre’ infrastructure delivered to 20mln premises throughout the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s.
BT is in discussions with regulator Ofcom about how to fund the investment through different fixed pricing structures for copper-based connections and flexibility on its fibre network.
A further 251 locations were named today as places that will get a fibre connection including Millom, Thurso, Ballycastle and Aberystwyth.
Clive Selley, Openreach’s chief executive, said: “This year we’ve all seen the importance of having a decent broadband connection and at Openreach, we’re convinced that Full Fibre technology can underpin the UK’s economic recovery.
“Right now, we’re building a new, ultra-reliable full-fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come.
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance said: “This commitment will provide a great economic boost for rural areas, where it’s clear connectivity has traditionally lagged behind more urban areas.
“As we have seen during the COVID pandemic, digital connectivity has been essential for the millions who are homeschooling and working from home. If we are all to play our part in rebuilding the economy, then good digital connectivity across the country is absolutely essential, so we welcome this important move.”
OpenReach has been criticised for a lack of urgency in upgrading its network from the old copper links and the government’s manifesto also included a plan to set up a £5bn fund to ensure the whole country was wired up to a superfast network.
Ofcom estimates there are 9.6mln remote locations where broadband connections are not up to scratch.
Speaking to the BBC today, Clive Selley said that to provide access to all the remaining remote places needs the government to enact its plan.
Shares in BT rose 2% to 112.1p.