Openreach is ready to embark on an exciting new attempt called Build to the Wall to bring full fiber broadband connections to your home faster than before. Openreach, which is owned by BT, provides the cable infrastructure for some of the biggest brands including BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone to name a few.
Changes in Openreach’s approach to installing new broadband cables will affect a large number of people – across a variety of different providers. This is what makes the latest announcement from Openreach so exciting.
Of course, Build to the Wall is just an attempt. It has to prove its worth.
According to the internet-obsessed blog ISPreview, Build to the Wall aims to improve the success rate of new full fiber installations. Currently, households that are not connected to the full fiber network need to call a technician to bring the cable into the house from outside, usually by drilling through your wall, connected to the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) and connected to your broadband router. Any one-step problem usually needs to be resolved with a second follow-up visit from another engineer.
The latest test version is designed to increase the success rate for new installations by optimizing the process through two separate visits. The first focuses solely on the outside work, while the second focuses on what needs to be done to get the full fiber cable to your new WiFi router.
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Coupled with plans to increase job density in certain geographic areas, this should mean that more openreach engineers are available to drive infrastructure uptake. If the tests work, it could help Openreach expand its network of all-fiber cables to replace the aging copper infrastructure that is still in use across the country. According to Openreach, the test will take four weeks, starting on August 23, 2021. It is aimed at around 600 full-fiber broadband orders for private households.
Openreach has already connected five million households to its full fiber cables this week. It is said to be well on its way to reaching 25 million by December 2026.
By comparison, Virgin Media O2 plans to connect 16 million homes to its Gig1 by the end of this year, which will offer speeds in excess of 1,000 Mbps.
The company, which has recently merged with O2, has spoken of its “efforts to accelerate investments” and has connected 7 million more households to gigabit-enabled broadband “in the coming years”. It’s unclear exactly where these homes would be – but it could lead to smaller towns and villages putting these future-proof connections online.
As millions of people move away from smaller city center apartments and move to rural homes with gardens, these upgrades could create entirely new commuter hubs outside the major cities.