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Fibre broadband changes: Will you be one of the 20m households getting upgrade?

YouFibre promises ‘fast internet’ connection for customers

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The upgrade will see 20 million homes benefit from a boost to their internet service – much needed for many in a time fo working from home. In the announcement, the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, said the “UK’s infrastructure urgently needs an upgrade”, and this would come in the form of replacing outdated copper cables with fibre.

So which areas will receive the upgrade?

The easiest way to check if you’ll receive an upgrade is to find out if you have a copper cable at the moment.

You can check the details of your service provider to determine this.

If you’re on copper and you live in a rural area, you are likely to be among the 20 million households due to receive a full-fibre upgrade.

Ofcom said: “The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the importance of a reliable internet connection.

“The UK’s copper telephone network – some of which was installed over 100 years ago – has helped deliver superfast broadband to 96 percent of homes, with services improving in recent years, without customers needing to spend more.

“But as our demand for data continues to accelerate, the UK’s infrastructure urgently needs an upgrade.”

The regulator added this will “require significant private investment” to provide broadband which is “much faster and more reliable than the networks most people use today”.

On Thursday, Ofcom announced it had decided not to impose price caps on full-fibre connections provided by the firm’s Openreach subsidiary.

This gives the company the certainty it had been looking for ahead of a planned £12bn investment.

However, the decision has led to criticism that Ofcom is giving a near-monopoly operator a generous deal.

That could mean more expensive internet connections for the public than might have been the case.

Ofcom, however, said consumers would be protected from high prices.

Openreach’s chief executive Clive Selley said: “Today’s regulation will allow us to ramp up to three million premises per year providing vital next-generation connectivity for homes and business right across the UK.”

As part of the measures, Ofcom will effectively freeze the wholesale fees Openreach charges for providing “superfast” data speeds of up to 40 megabits per second, which rely on copper links via fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) or older technologies.

The watchdog had previously forced these to fall by about 20 percent over recent years.

The price Openreach charges for faster and more reliable FTTP connections will remain unregulated, but it will not be allowed to offer geographic discounts on its full-fibre wholesale services.

Ofcom said: “Openreach has committed to rolling out full-fibre to a further 3.2 million properties in more rural areas.

“And the Government plans to cover the remaining 20 percent of the country through public funding, to help make sure nobody gets left behind.”

Openreach lays down and maintains the fibre-optic cables involved as well as operating the associated telephone exchanges, and then sells the use of these services to individual internet service providers. They in turn sell access to the public.

The business has said it can now confirm a plan to build fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections to 20 million homes and offices by the mid-to-late-2020s.

BT, the group which owns Openreach, said it will “build like fury” to roll out full-fibre cables across the UK.

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