£31.5 million broadband boost for a lucky few across the South West

The lesser-spotted Openreach engineer. Coming to your premises soon perhaps, but not to the office of this magazine's editor
Openreach engineer working in street

People living and working in 20 communities across the South West are due to be upgraded following Openreach’s latest build announcement, with a new, ultrafast, ultra-reliable ‘full fibre’ broadband network being built to most premises in places like Painswick, North Curry and Trowbridge.

The news comes as the digital network provider announces it has reached more than six million homes and businesses across the UK with ultrafast Full Fibre, more than 540,000 of them in this region.

The plans are a further boost for the region as they follow news earlier this year that an additional 720,000 homes and businesses in the South West would be getting access to Openreach’s new network, including 440,000 in rural and harder to serve areas.

Connie Dixon, Openreach’s Regional Director for the South West, said, “Good connectivity is vital – whether it’s to work from home, access education and care services, or for gaming and streaming entertainment – and that’s why we’re investing across the UK to upgrade our network to 25 million premises.

“We’ve already reached six million homes and businesses with ultrafast full fibre technology, including around 540,000 in the South West. It’s proving popular as well, with nearly 30 per cent of the population already choosing to start using it.

“Our engineers and build partners are reaching more communities every week and we’re not just building in cities and urban areas. Many rural and hard to reach communities are already benefitting and we plan to reach many more in the coming months and years.”

Across the UK, 1.3 million homes and businesses have already ordered a Full Fibre service from a range of retail service providers using the Openreach network. But this means 4.7 million more are yet to start benefiting from some of the fastest, most reliable broadband connections in the world and have yet to upgrade.

Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the economic benefits of connecting everyone in the South West to Full Fibre. It estimated this would create a £4.3 billion boost to the local economy.

Openreach engineers have been working hard to make the technology available to as many people as possible throughout the UK – at times reaching 47,000 premises a week – and work will continue between now and 2026, with the full list of locations and timescales being updated regularly on the Openreach website.

The company’s plans are fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable’ broadband to 85 per cent of UK by 2025. The company plans to reach a total of 25 million premises by the end of December 2026, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country defined by industry regulator Ofcom.

Openreach employs more than 3,400 people across the South West.

Editor: I’ve just looked on the Openreach website. Looks like I’ll have to wait until 2026 before anything more than the current two-tins-and-a-piece-of-string connection I’ve got reaches my home/office. And I don’t consider my home in a hard-to-reach area. There’s three pubs within walking distance, a little Tesco and a post office.