Digital Minister visits Harpenden to celebrate Openreach’s five millionth business getting access to ultrafast broadband

Ciaran Murray

Minister for digital infrastructure, Matt Warman, has visited Harpenden, Hertfordshire, to officially ‘switch on’ the five millionth home to get access to Openreach’s ultrafast ultra-reliable broadband network.

The Minister was given a guided tour of the town’s exchange building where Openreach engineers have installed new digital broadband equipment.  He then helped to give the five millionth home in the UK access to the new future-proof network by trying his hand at ‘splicing’ or connecting up the hair thin glass fibre-optic cables that can provide download speeds of 1 Gbps –  up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection.

The Ministerial visit came on the back of news that Openreach plans to build ultrafast ‘Full Fibre’ broadband network to 551 more locations, covering another five million homes and businesses part of its £15bn programme to reach 25m premises all over the UK by December 2026.

Several towns in North Herts and Central Beds will join other areas across the region benefitting from a broadband boost costing £144m.

Overall, more than 2,400 towns, cities, boroughs, villages and hamlets have so-far been included in Openreach’s fibre first programme, and the build is fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable broadband’ to 85 per cent of UK by 2025.

Matt Warman, said: “We have already started work on the biggest broadband build in the history of this country through our £5 billion Project Gigabit to invest in lightning-fast connections across the UK.

“I welcome this landmark day in Openreach’s roll out and we will continue to work alongside them to level up the country with next-generation connectivity.”

Kevin Murphy, Openreach’s MD for Fibre and network delivery, who hosted the visit, added: “Nobody in the UK is building full fibre faster, further or at a higher quality than Openreach.

“We’re reaching more communities than ever and our team of highly skilled engineers, alongside our build partners, are working hard to deliver some of the fastest and most reliable broadband available anywhere in the world.

“Just last month we announced 154 rural and hard to reach locations were to benefit, so it’s great that we’re able to reveal another huge broadband boost for the region with these additional 47 locations.”

Openreach plays an important role across the East of England region. More than 3,300 of our people live and work here. Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the clear economic benefits of connecting everyone in the East of England to full fibre. It estimated this would create a £5.4 billion boost to the local economy.