Full Fibre broadband build could be a “gamechanger” for the South West economy

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Openreach engineer with van_001[2]

A new study reveals that a comprehensive rollout of full fibre broadband could support more than 85,000 new workers.

Openreach’s Regional Partnership Director for the South West, Connie Dixon, has welcomed the findings of a report conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) which shows that a comprehensive Full Fibre network in the South West could enable 85,000 new people to enter the region’s workforce.

The report, commissioned by Openreach, also reveals that a nationwide rollout would also allow more than 26,000 people in the South West to expand the hours they are able to work if they wanted. And helping carers, parents and over-65s to access employment could contribute £2.1 billon in gross value added to the South West economy.

The new report builds on a report released pre-COVID by Cebr that said that the South West economy could be boosted to the tune of £4.3 billion if the region had ultrafast, Full Fibre broadband everywhere.

Connie said: “This report illustrates just how game-changing the roll out of Full Fibre broadband across the South West’s rural and remote communities could be.

“The pandemic has reinforced public recognition of the importance of high-quality broadband and we’re clear that fibre has a significant part to play in the region’s recovery.

“The Cebr findings show accelerating the build would pay huge dividends to the South West economy as a whole and be instrumental in bringing people back into the workforce who haven’t previously had the ability to navigate other commitments or find opportunities in their local area.

“Cebr’s previous research explained the economic windfall in store for the UK with a nationwide upgrade – including a £59 billion boost to productivity – £4.3bn of this in the South West. And this updated report highlights how Full Fibre can help to level up the UK, bringing up to more than 85,000 people back into the workforce in our region. With the challenges our region currently faces, this an opportunity we can’t afford to ignore.”

Openreach is investing millions of pounds on a Full Fibre rollout to more than 70 towns and cities in the region, including 62 locations in the hard-to-reach ‘final third’.  In December last year, Openreach announced it was creating 2,500 new roles and an estimated 2,800 roles with partners to support the UK-wide Full Fibre build, including 200 new roles in the South West.  Openreach already employs more than 34,500 people, including more than 25,000 engineers who build, maintain and connect customers to its nationwide broadband network. Of these, more than 3,400 live and/or work in the South West.