Openreach offers free full-fibre installation for thousands of homes

Around 13,000 more newbuilds per year could benefit from the cost-free installation of high-speed internet

Openreach will extend a programme that offers free full-fibre broadband installations to thousands of newbuilds per year after relaxing the conditions around the number of properties developers must have on their sites.

The networking infrastructure division of BT has estimated that around 13,000 new homes across 600 small housing developments will benefit from its free Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) installations from 1 April this year.

Developers with sites on which there are 20 or more properties will be eligible for free installations should they sign up with Openreach, versus the previous threshold of 30 or more homes. 

Openreach says the programme has been successful so far, with 99% of plots on sites with 30 or more homes registering for FTTP.

“Our existing offer already provides huge benefits to both buyers and builders alike, but we want to go further and make sure everybody moving into a new build property can enjoy the advantages of Full Fibre broadband,” said Kim Mears, Openreach’s managing director for strategic infrastructure development.

“The UK is a world leader in digital infrastructure and services today, but as the digital revolution continues at an ever increasing pace, and our demand for data grows, we need to make sure this country stays ahead of the curve by building fast, reliable networks that cater for all the activities we’ll want to do online in the decades ahead.

“We hope these new measures will provide the necessary incentive for housebuilders to adopt this future-proof technology across smaller developments so that no-one’s left behind.”

Mears added that Openreach supports the government’s aims to amend legislation so that all newbuild homes are required to have the infrastructure capable of supporting gigabit connections.

Despite the announcement, full-fibre access in the UK is painfully lacking compared against a host of international neighbours and rivals, especially the likes of South Korea and Japan, which boast more than 95% of full-fibre coverage.

The UK, by contrast, currently offers full-fibre coverage to just 8% of premises.

The government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, had previously aimed to ramp up fibre coverage to 100% by 2025. This was branded as unrealistic by experts, however, and the plans were subsequently dropped.

The UK’s poor full-fibre coverage also came under the spotlight during last year’s general election campaign, with the Labour Party pledging to nationalise Openreach to mandate the rollout of necessary networking infrastructure by 2030.

This was accompanied by a promise to offer free full-fibre connections to all homes and offices once the UK could boast 100% coverage.

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