UK networks glow as Openreach hits halfway point in UK broadband upgrade plan

Full-fibre forges ahead as Openreach progresses towards plan to extend gigabit to vast majority of UK promises over next three years, as it reveals its biggest ever hourly peak for network traffic was on 6 December

Just as it published network traffic data showing its broadband infrastructure lit up to unprecedented levels thanks mainly to Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City’s Premier League football games being shown simultaneously over Amazon Prime Video, Openreach announced that its full-fibre network is now available to 12.5 million UK premises, which represents the halfway mark in its nationwide plan to reach 25 million premises with the technology by the end of 2026.

Openreach has invested £15bn in its full-fibre infrastructure project, looking to provide what it assures will be reliable, fast broadband that meets the needs of modern life. It said that the need for the upgrade is clear, with roughly 1.8 million Terabytes of data used on its network each week – equivalent to every person in the country watching two full HD movies every day.

The company added that broadband usage hit record-breaking levels in 2022 and data consumption was rising every single year, as technology becomes more sophisticated and integral to people’s daily lives, with social changes such as working from home and the boom in online learning. 

In a clear example of this rise, Openreach revealed that it had the biggest ever hourly peak for the data being used during the 20:00-21:00pm period on its network on 6 December. Typically, the company see an average of 21 PB of data during this period each day, but more than 29.5 Petabytes (PB) of data passed through the broadband network on Wednesday.

Given the live streaming on Amazon of the six Premier League football matches during the night, Openreach said that it expected a spike and that it was always monitoring the network to anticipate peaks in demand, confident it could cope with whatever was being thrown at it.

As it continued to see high levels of traffic across the network, Openreach stressed that faster, more reliable connectivity had become a priority for most people. To that end, it was seeing growth in deployment, reaching around 60,000 new premises every week, the equivalent of a town the size of Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

In addition, Openreach revealed that more than four million homes and businesses have already connected to the new network and demand continues to rise with the company growing its full-fibre base by more than 30,000 new orders every week.

Openreach noted that it has already made full-fibre available to more than 13,400 medical facilities – including hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies – across the UK, as well as 8,300 care and nursing homes. It has also made full-fibre available to over 13,500 educational facilities such as schools, universities and 4,500 children’s nurseries and creches.

Meanwhile, as part of its regular programme of build updates, Openreach has published plans to deliver full-fibre in another 142 locations in the UK, covering around 1.4. million homes and businesses, including what it said are some of the hardest-to-reach and most rural communities in the UK.

After it reaches its initial 25 million target, Openreach intends to keep building reaching up to 30 million premises with full-fibre by the end of 2030.

Commenting on the target milestone, Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach, said: “This is a national infrastructure project that’s a genuine success story. We’re delivering engineering on an epic scale, on time and on budget – and that’s thanks to a supportive policy environment which has led to huge investment and competition throughout the UK’s telecoms sector.

“Ultimately, we’ll reach up to 30 million premises by the end of the decade – unlocking a raft of economic and social benefits by supporting new models of commerce, healthcare and public services.”

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