If your broadband services come from a provider other than Virgin Media or another with their own network, your service may use Openreach cables or copper wires. Your internet provider purchases access on the Openreach network for broadband or phone services. In this guide, we will examine OpenReach's capabilities and its functionality. We will also go through the history behind OpenReach's operations, and hopefully that answers your questions.
OpenReach Limited are the owners of telephone cables, ducts, boxes and other equipment connecting nearly every household and business in England with national broadband networks. It was created after BT agreed a partnership with regulated telecommunications regulator Ofcom to execute various undertakings pursuant to the Enterprise Act 2002 ensuring competition in telecom markets has equal access to BT local networks.
Is Openreach a broadband provider?
Openreach Limited is a subsidiary of BT that supply most households to the nationwide telephone and broadband network. They do not however provide broadband deals themselves - instead many different providers make use of the Openreach network, and choose the branding, pricing and service packages for each of their deals.
Which broadband providers use Openreach?
The Openreach network has nearly 390,000 subscribers via many popular Internet companies including Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen Internet.
Most broadband providers, except Virgin Media, G Network or Community Fibre, use Openreach to access broadband in their homes. Virgin Media and others, use their own cable infrastructure to supply customers directly with ultrafast internet connections direct to their premises. Generally these are less common in a new build home, but if you're lucky enough to be one of the consumers in their coverage sector it can certainly be worth upgrading in order to connect to their industry leading system.
History of OpenReach
Openreach was founded in 2006, with the aim of maintaining and developing the broadband and telecoms networks across the UK. Whilst initially a part of BT, Ofcom the official telecoms regulator, wanted to launch a separate venture under the Openreach name.
In their early stages, Openreach focussed on expanding their existing network. In 2008, Openreach brought their first Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network to a limited region in the UK, which enabled speeds of 100 Mb, the fastest at the time.
Following this, in 2009 Openreach also launched their Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) network, starting in Muswell Hill. This allowed users to reach around 40 Mb of download speeds.
In 2010, Openreach focussed on building out the ADSL2+ network. Whilst speeds were slower with about 20 Mbps, this rollout was responsible for connecting more than half of the UK, who previously were without internet access.
Following this success, Openreach has focussed on extending the fibre network, as this provides the fastest speeds overall, and therefore provides more longevity compared to older connections.
At present, Openreach continues to invest in their engineers, and the rollout of their fibre cables.
286.6 million home owners now get fibre broadband speeds of up to 30 Mbps on the network. In addition, the ultra-fast full-fibre network will support the homes and the companies in which they are located. 15.7 million home or office connections are available through our fiber connection system.
What are some alternatives to the Openreach Network?
Whilst many broadband providers in the country use the Openreach Network for their broadband, there are some alternatives which are worth considering.
Perhaps the second largest network outside of Openreach, is Virgin Media. The network has laid their own fibre cables and provides a broadband service strictly under the Virgin Media brand.
If you're after the fasted broadband speeds available, you might want to check out Community Fibre. Similarly to Virgin Media, they have built their own network and are only available under the CommunityFibre brand. One downside is, that they are currently only available in parts of London.
G Network provides full fibre broadband in most parts of London. Similarly to the other two examples, their network is only accessible through their own branding and service.
Of course, there are other broadband networks in the UK, but this simply illustrates that there alternatives to Openreach.
One thing to bear in mind, is that not all networks will cover the entirety of the country - for this reason, if you're looking to sign up to a new deal, always check whether you can get it for your home address!
What is next for Openreach?
UK broadband provider BT is accelerating its plan to stop selling copper-based broadband and traditional voice services across the UK by 2025. Openreach aims to replace the traditional analogue network, with newer digital technologies. This includes the ugrapde of 16 million lines and channels, which ultimately help households across the UK access faster broadband speeds.