Openreach, the BT owned telecoms network used by most of the UK’s broadband providers, says the rollout of a “cost-busting” technology has made it possible to bring full fibre broadband to remote communities previously deemed to be out of commercial reach while also saving £10m in build costs.
The new technology involves fitting a box of signal boosting equipment, normally found in a main exchange building, to existing street cabinets.
Dubbed the Subtended Headend or SHE, the box allows fibre cables to be extended over 200km – three times their normal reach – and have the capacity to connect up to a thousand additional homes and businesses from a single location.
The firm says the rollout cuts up to six months in build time and avoids the costs involved in deploying new fibre cables or ‘spines’ all the way from an exchange to a property.
Engineers have now deployed around 100 individual SHEs across the UK, connecting around 160,000 homes and businesses while avoiding the need to build over 1,262 km of new fibre cabling.
The technology can also be installed in small remote exchange buildings that are served by a main exchange, helping to extend the reach of Openreach’s full fibre network further still.
Openreach’s Chief Engineer, Andy Whale, said: “Openreach has a strong track record of investing more than any other company into rural broadband upgrades. We’re rolling out full fibre to reach 25m homes and businesses and a quarter of that – around 6m premises – will be in the hardest to reach third of the country.
“We’ve already built full fibre to around half of those harder to reach homes and businesses and this innovation is helping us to build faster and further into these more remote parts the country – especially in more rural areas, on a very large scale but more efficiently and at a much lower cost.”