Openreach trials will speed up broadband upgrade

Tests to focus on process of migrating households and businesses to fibre to the premise and voice over IP

Salisbury will be used in a trial of Openreach’s programme to upgrade UK households and businesses to fibre to the premises (FTTP) and will be the first UK city with full access to the network.

Openreach said more than 20,000 homes and businesses in the city will be able to connect to gigabit-capable broadband.

Since launching its Fibre First programme in February 2018, Openreach has been working on full-fibre network builds in 25 other cities, towns and suburbs around the UK, but Salisbury will be the first to have universal access, it said.

Meanwhile, the town of Mildenhall, Suffolk, will host Openreach’s testing of migration from analogue telephony to digital voice services. This will help prepare the industry for the upgrade to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology and the withdrawal of wholesale services on the traditional telephone network by the end of 2025.

The trials will be carried out by Openreach alongside communications providers such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

Openreach’s target is for four million homes and businesses to have access to a full FTTP service on its network by the end of March 2021. More than 1.2 million premises now have FTTP, with about 20,000 more added every week.

Openreach said: “This upgrade of customers onto full fibre broadband and digital voice services is a hugely complex task and the trials will help the company and communications providers prepare for the process of a wider migration across the UK.”

Richard Allwood, chief strategy officer at Openreach, said the trials are an important part of delivering a fully fibred UK. “We are going to continue working closely and openly across the industry and we are determined to make the upgrade to FTTP as smooth and seamless and beneficial as possible for every customer,” he said.

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