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Broadband boost for South East of England as Openreach targets ‘harder to reach’ areas

27 Jan Broadband boost for South East of England as Openreach targets ‘harder to reach’ areas

Openreach today outlined plans to make ultrafast, ultra-reliable and future-proof broadband available in 63 market towns and villages across the South East of England.

It’s part of a bigger announcement involving 227 ‘harder to reach’ areas across the UK, with building to start in the next 14 months. It’s part of Openreach’s previously stated target to reach four million homes and businesses with ‘full fibre’ technology by the end of March 2021.

These new locations across Essex, Kent, the Isle of Sheppey, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are part of the company’s ambition to extend its new ‘full’ fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network outside cities.

The work builds on successful cost busting village trials launched at the tail end of last year – including Lingfield in Surrey and Seal in Kent – which have seen engineers developing a range of new tools, skills and techniques to help Openreach build full fibre in areas previously considered too complex or expensive to upgrade.

Laura Whelan, Openreach’s Partnership Director in the South East of England, said: “This is great news for people living and working here and builds on Openreach’s strong track record of working in rural areas, for years playing a key role alongside local councils to upgrade more than 97 per cent of the South East of England to superfast broadband. Today’s announcement is about taking that next step and building a full fibre network that is not only faster, but also more reliable and future-proof for generations to come.”

There are clear economic benefits to building full fibre in rural areas. A report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) – “Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth” – commissioned by Openreach in 2019, revealed that connecting everyone in the South East of England to ‘full fibre’ broadband by 2025 would create a £8.7 billion boost to the region’s economy.

The report also revealed that 65,000 people in the region could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity. This could include roles within small businesses and entrepreneurs – as well as allowing thousands more people to work remotely., by unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next-generation of home-grown businesses.