BT-owned Openreach is set to bring FTTP services to a further one million premises by the end of 2020 through a new programme.

The Fibre First programme sees the pure fibre technology rolled out in cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

A further 32 undetermined towns and cities will be targeted in the future.

The programme, set to begin this year, extends Openreach’s existing target of reaching two million premises by 2020 and a wider ambition to reach 10 million premises by the mid-2020s.

Financial details of the plan, which sees the company recruit and train 3,000 new field engineers, were not revealed.

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said: “Working closely with Central and Local government and our Communication Provider customers, we will identify the cities, towns and rural areas where we can build a future-proofed, FTTP network that’s capable of delivering gigabit speeds to all homes and businesses at an affordable cost.

“We’ll continue to invest in our people and we’re already in the process of re-training and upskilling to make Fibre First a reality.

The news came after 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.

Openreach rivals continue to bid for a piece of the FTTP market, with Vodafone teaming up with CityFibre for a fibre joint venture in November.

In a statement, CityFibre credited itself with sparking Openreach’s announcement.

“It is recognised by government and Ofcom that the time has come to reduce the public’s dependency on Openreach. It is not in the UK’s best interest to encourage further entrenchment of the incumbent monopoly.

“As successfully demonstrated all over the world, it is a new generation of infrastructure builders that are best placed to deliver full fibre – able to deliver the next generation of digital connectivity faster and at lower prices than incumbent operators.”

Openreach was structurally separated from owner BT last year through intervention by regulator Ofcom.

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