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Introduction Tim O'Sullivan

Two thirds of UK fibred 21 months ahead of schedule 

Super fast broadband 

BT's fibre network passed more than 19 million homes and businesses in May 2014, 21 months ahead of the original target. Around two thirds of UK premises can now order much faster broadband from a wide variety of ISPs using the new network, all of whom have benefited from the billions of pounds BT has spent on upgrading its network.

BT originally said it would cover 19m premises with fibre by the end of 2015. It passed that total in March this year, around 21 months earlier than planned, with the vast majority of that footprint being enabled by BT under its commercial plan. The remainder has been enabled in partnership with the public sector.

That progress was shown in Ofcom’s European Broadband Scorecard report from March 2014, which showed the UK has the widest fibre availability of the EU 'big 5' countries as well as the highest take up of the technology and the most competitive marketplace.

UK fibre availability currently stands at 73 per cent of premises when all networks are taken into account. This widespread availability compares with just 20-25 per cent for France.

BT's fibre footprint is set to grow considerably in the year ahead as it continues its commercial roll out and enables further areas with the assistance of the public sector. Much of this work will take place under the 44 local partnerships that BT has struck as part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. Work is underway in all 44 contract areas and nearly one million largely rural premises have been passed so far with fibre under the programme.

There has been strong-take up too, with 347,000 new premises taking fibre from a range of service providers over BT’s network between January and March 2014. This equates to a new fibre customer roughly every twenty seconds, 24/7. Those new customers have taken the Openreach fibre broadband customer base to more than 2.7m. This has almost doubled from a year ago.

More than 6m UK premises currently subscribe to fibre when all networks are taken into account. This level of take up is considerably ahead of many other European countries.

UK consumers and businesses are benefiting from a wide choice of suppliers given Openreach's network is open to all internet service providers on the same terms. This intense competition at a retail level has resulted in the UK boasting the cheapest prices for fibre out of the major EU countries.

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