Birmingham firms set to benefit from ultrafast fibre broadband

Openreach's Clive Selley

Birmingham is set to be one of the first cities in the UK to benefit from a major acceleration of its ultrafast fibre broadband network.

Openreach, Britain’s national broadband infrastructure provider, intends to extend by 50% its target for rolling out Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to three million premises across the UK by the end of 2020.

Eight major cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester – comprise the first phase of Openreach’s Fibre First programme which will connect up to 40 UK towns, cities and boroughs with FTTP networks, with work starting this year.

The programme will see tens of thousands of Birmingham homes and businesses capable of receiving the new broadband connection.

Richard Hill, Openreach’s infrastructure delivery director for the West Midlands, added: “This latest multi million pound investment in Birmingham by Openreach will give a vital boost to the city’s households and businesses.

“For our vibrant business community, which is known for its innovation, it will mean more firms benefiting from the huge opportunities offered by this exciting technology to attract new customers, provide new services and work more efficiently.”

The move has been welcomed by the Mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street.

Speaking at the Mercia Technologies annual gala dinner last night, Mr Street said: “The news that Birmingham is to receive ultrafast fibre is very welcome indeed and will support the work we are doing at the combined authority to develop the digital sector.”

The city is expecting to create 29,000 jobs in the digital and creative sectors by 2030 and one of the Mayor’s aims is to create a Digital Skills Institute with responsibility for leading digital training efforts in the West Midlands.

Mr Street has spoken in the past about how the digital sector is the “golden thread” that runs through all sectors of industry, from manufacturing to life sciences.

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 ten 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.”