UK’s Openreach prioritizes existing fiber rollout • The Register

Openreach, the infrastructure arm of British telecoms giant BT, is expected to prioritize existing projects rather than start building new fiber broadband networks as it tries to control costs amid rising inflation.

Openreach and other network service providers have invested in new infrastructure across the UK in recent years, following the Government’s pledge to roll out all-glass broadband access to all areas of the country by 2025.

However, a Financial Times report claims Openreach is now limiting its investment in fiber to contain costs. This appears to be based on a letter the company sent to its suppliers informing them that Openreach intends to limit investments to a just-in-time approach and not capitalize on projects with a duration of more than six months, the FT said.

We asked Openreach for an answer, and the company denied that it would cut investments in its fiber broadband deployment.

“We expect to bring ultra-fast fiber broadband to more homes and businesses over the next year, not less, so we’re accelerating rather than slowing down,” a spokesman told Us.

So what is correct? Does Openreach reduce fiber rollout or not?

Well, it depends how you look at it. A spokesman for Openreach’s parent company, BT, told us that the plan is to prioritize investments in areas where network deployment has already started, rather than starting new construction in new areas.

So it may be true to say that Openreach continues to invest in expanding its fiber optic network in the exchange areas where it has already started building, but it is also true that it is expanding into areas where there are currently none , fiber optic infrastructure could stop – at least not yet.

In its results for the six months to the end of September, BT Group said its FTTP deployment “had passed 8.8 million buildings, including 2.8 million in rural areas”, with initial build on a further 6 million buildings underway is. It is these 6 million premises that Openreach expects to focus on in the near future.

“As our latest results show, we are investing £200m [$238 million] more than we anticipated for construction this year, and orders for full-fiber services are at record levels,” the spokesman said.

“In fact, 9 million homes and businesses can already order our full-fiber service from a wide range of service providers, so it makes sense for us to invest more resources in updating customers and fulfilling orders as quickly and smoothly as possible. We’ve also partially built the new network to an additional six million premises, so we’re focused on completing that work,” added Openreach.

But BT Group is determined to cut costs amid a deteriorating economic outlook, CEO Philip Jansen explained at length when announcing the company’s results earlier this month.

As we reported, Jansen said BT Group is raising cost savings targets “from £2.5bn to £3bn by the end of FY25”.

At the same time, BT was mired in a damaging industrial dispute with employees over pay that saw 26,000 Openreach engineers and call center staff leave the company on eight separate occasions, negatively impacting the organisation’s operations.

The company said earlier this month that the UK government’s price cap on energy bills could give it the financial “leeway” to offer employees more money and end the dispute. ® UK’s Openreach prioritizes existing fiber rollout • The Register

Rick Schindler

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