A million rural homes in the UK to get Internet upgrades

Openreach, the network arm of BT, has revealed that it is close to finalising a deal with the UK Government to ensure that over a million homes in rural areas across the country get Internet upgrades. This will allow these areas to enjoy Internet speeds that are prevalent in other parts of the country.

The negotiations between Openreach and the UK Government have reached an advanced stage and will see Openreach investing millions of pounds to conform to the Universal Service Obligation, which makes it mandatory for network providers to offer a minimum speed of 10Mbps. According to Ofcom, presently, nearly five per cent of premises (about 1.4 million homes and businesses) do not get basic Internet connectivity or have poor connectivity.

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said that he anticipates that decisions from both parties will be made quickly to ensure that the upgrades occur as soon as possible.

Openreach, which is legally separating from BT, intends on using new technology to help rural areas that are located far from their local telephone exchange enjoy enhanced Internet speeds. Mr Selley revealed that once the pricing has been finalised between Openreach and the Government, Openreach will use new technology to cover 1.1 million premises. A majority of the homes and businesses in these areas will get a superfast Internet speed of more than 24Mbps. The remaining premises will have to use wireless technology or satellite connectivity.

Openreach is looking to make the investment without any subsidy. However, it seeks regulated pricing that will allow the company to recover its costs over a period of time. At the moment, the network provider is at the helm since the UK Government has promised ultrafast Internet connectivity across the country by 2020.

Mr Selley said that he wants to ensure that the entire country has access to superfast Internet connectivity. He believes that it is a priority for both the Government and Openreach.

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