Telecoms company BT’s Openreach division is accelerating the roll-out of its gigabit-capable full fibre broadband across the UK, with the aim of connecting 20 million households and firms to the network within the next 10 years.
Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband provides the fastest and most reliable connection to the internet.
As the pandemic and social distancing measures cause more people to work from home, Openreach estimate that the £12 billion roll-out could allow 20 million more people than originally thought to carry out their jobs at home in the long term.
This could, in turn, reduce the need for transport and housing in cities, and provide a boost to local and rural economies, many of which have been hit by the financial fallout of the pandemic.
In addition, The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has estimated that a nationwide roll-out of full fibre broadband would increase UK productivity by £59 billion by 2025.
Boosting the economy
The roll-out has already created more than 2,500 new jobs with Openreach and 2,800 with partner organisations.
According to Cebr’s research, potentially 1 million more jobs will be available by 2025, including 400,000 for parents, 300,000 for carers and 250,000 for older workers, some of whom complain of age discrimination from employers when applying for roles.
Govt target ‘in jeopardy‘
The roll-out is a part of the government’s plan to make gigabit-capable full fibre broadband available to most UK households.
In December, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) Commons select committee warned the government that it would not reach its goal of connecting 85% of households to the network by 2025. The target had previously been revised down from 100% of households.
According to Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, says gigabit-capable full fibre broadband is currently available to 25% of homes across the UK.
Oliver Dowden, digital secretary, said of the latest news: “I welcome this tremendous investment by Openreach. It will help us build back better from the pandemic and create thousands of new, high-skilled jobs delivering faster broadband to people across the UK.
“The plans are a huge step forward in our national mission to level-up Britain’s digital infrastructure and, alongside the government’s £5 billion investment, will make sure even the hardest-to-reach areas get a lightning-fast gigabit broadband connection.”
Ofcom says around 43,000 premises still do not have access to decent fixed broadband or an adequate 4G connection indoors.