BT OPENREACH has pledged to bring high-speed broadband to three million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2020 as part of its new 'Fibre First' programme.
Openreach, which is a wholly-owned but independent unit of BT, said on Thursday that it'll recruit and train 3,000 engineers this year in order to reach its new target of three million homes and businesses by 2020. Previously, it had committed to reaching two million homes by that date.
Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester will make up the first phase of the roll-outs, "which will connect up to 40 UK towns, cities and boroughs".
Openreach, whose FTTP network currently covers 500,000 homes, said it expects the cost of the ramped-up rollout to be around £300-£400 per premise passed.
Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: "Through the Fibre First programme, Openreach is getting on with the job of building an Ultrafast Britain.
"We are accelerating our plans to build FTTP to three million premises by 2020 which sets the course to reach 10 million by the mid-2020s with the right conditions. Where possible going forward, we will 'fibre first'.
"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."
Selley added that Openreach will work with the government to ensure that FTTP is delivered to rural networks, to ensure some of the "hardest to reach communities get access to future-proofed networks."
While the announcement is a step in the right direction, Alex Neill, of consumer group Which? said that the UK still remained far behind other countries, such as Spain, in offering high-speed broadband through Fibre connections.
"When you look that 79 per cent of people in Spain have got access to full fibre and yet only 3 per cent of British homes have, clearly consumers will be asking why that is happening, especially when the majority of them have experienced a problem with their broadband in the last year," she said in a statement to BBC News.
BT's announcement comes just days after the UK government announced that 'superfast' broadband is now available to 95 per cent of residential and business premises across the UK. µ
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