AS OPENREACH celebrates signing-up its 1,000th customer to full-fibre broadband and making Salisbury its first full-fibre city in the UK those behind the project hope it will “super-charge” the local economy as well as benefit residents.

The project, started in March 2019, was finished in March of this year.

James Tappenden, the Openreach director who led the project, said: “We’re really pleased with how it’s gone. The round number is 25,000 homes in Salisbury and we are substantively complete.

“There have been loads of challenges from an engineering perspective that we have had to overcome. Things like there have been 38 different types of cobblestones in Salisbury, lots of listed buildings, which we have had to design sympathetically around, and working with landlords to get permission to get into multi-dwelling units or blocks of flats and apartments.

"That has been a real challenge - we have half solved that one. There are still a few homes we have not been able to serve - a small minority because we have not been able to get permissions from the landlords to get in.

“Overall the ambition we set out a year ago to do all of Salisbury in pretty much 12 months we have delivered on time and on budget, which we are really pleased with.”

The technology can support speeds up to a gigabit. Openreach CEO Clive Selley said: “The remaining challenge is to communicate with the people of Salisbury so that they all know that gigabit broadband is available and the option is there for them to take it up.

“We think that will make a huge difference, particularly in the ‘new normal’, where so many of us are working from home rather than our regular places of work.”

Clive says benefits of fibre are that it is “very upgradeable” and offers better “stability of speed” and reliability.

“It is the case that every year more applications come along that require ever more bandwidth and we are future-proofing Salisbury for bandwidth requirement,” added Clive.

“What we want is much more reliable telecommunications to our homes and business premises and fibre is a massive step-change on reliability.”

The work done in Salisbury will act as a blueprint for it to replicated in other areas in the UK. “We believe this will supercharge the economy of Salisbury. We think more online businesses can be created in Salisbury and existing businesses will be able to trade more efficiently and socially this is good for the people of Salisbury,” said Clive.

MP John Glen added: "I’m extremely grateful to Openreach for suggesting it and working so swiftly to deliver it. They absolutely delivered on time and totally fulfilled the promise they made to me.

“I now see it as a great opportunity for the people and businesses of Salisbury to grab this, to sign up and use it as part of the post-Covid lifestyles that I think will emerge from this. That means staying and living and working in the beautiful city of Salisbury and spending money here as we try and support the local economy as it recovers.”

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