Openreach has restated its commitment to rolling out fibre in the UK after the country’s government claimed success in its 95 percent coverage goal for superfast broadband.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) trumpeted figures released by thinkbroadband.com revealing that 95 percent of homes and businesses can access connections of 24MBps or faster.
The independent website caveated the figures by saying there were wide differences across the country, with areas such as Watford having close to 99 percent coverage while areas such as the City of London and the Orkney Islands had coverage of 50 percent and 67 percent respectively.
DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock said: ”We’ve delivered on our commitment to reach 95 percent of homes and businesses in the UK, but there’s still more to do in our work building a Britain that’s fit for the future.”
Broadband Delivery UK, the government vehicle charged overseeing broadband rollout, revealed it has now connected 4.5 million homes and businesses in areas not considered commercially viable by operators.
However, 1.4 million premises are still unable to access speeds of 24MBps.
Clive Selley, the CEO of BT-owned infrastructure provider Openreach, said his company would continue to expand its coverage to the final five percent ahead of the introduction of a regulatory universal service obligation (USO) which will allow everyone in the UK to request access to a 10MBps connection by 2020.
The USO was confirmed in December when the government rebuffed BT’s proposals for a voluntary commitment to offer 10MBps download and 1MBps upload speeds to 99 percent of premises by the end of 2020.
Selley said the operator would use a combination of its commercial programmes and partnerships with local authorities and communities to reach more areas.
He added that Openreach wanted to build a “future-proof, large-scale full fibre network” and promised more specific proposals for the rollout of FTTH tech would be published soon.
Openreach has committed to passing two million homes and businesses with FTTH by 2020, although Selley said last year that it may be possible to reach 10 million premises by the mid 2020s.
The company is coming under increasing pressure from rivals.
thinkbroadband Editor Andrew Fergusion said: “It’s important to remember the 95 percent target is not the end game.
“Extensions and additional phases to many of the projects are underway or in the planning stages to ensure the Government’s aim of hitting 97-98 percent superfast coverage in 2019 becomes a reality.
“How close the roll-outs from all the providers push the UK towards that goal will have a big influence on how the USO will operate and the scale of the task ahead.”