Who are Openreach?

You see the name Openreach every day

Whenever you leave your home, whether it’s to go shopping, go to work or just take the dog for a walk, you almost certainly see the name Openreach while you’re out and about. You see it so often you probably don’t even notice it. But who are Openreach?

OpenreachSome people still refer to what is now Openreach as BT. In 2006 Ofcom decided that BT had an unfair advantage in the UK’s telecoms market and as a consequence Openreach was created to allow other broadband suppliers equal access to BT’s local access network and provide their own services using the network. To allow competition, in other words. BT owns most of the network itself but Openreach manages it.

The network itself provides phone lines acrosss the whole of the UK, plus ADSL, FTTC fibre and also FTTP fibre services in a growing number of areas. You can’t actually place an order for home broadband with Openreach directly, and instead you order the services via one of the many broadband suppliers who use the network.

BT itself, along with companies like Sky, TalkTalk and most of the UK’s other major broadband and telecoms companies are Openreach customers, using the network to supply broadband and phone lines to your property. From your point of view Openreach is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the local network between the BT exchange and the phone socket in your home or business. When you sign up for broadband services and an engineer is called to install, activate or fault-check your line, it will be Openreach.

At the last count, well over 600 broadband suppliers were using the Openreach network to provide services including fixed line phone connections and one type of broadband or another.  The notable exception is Virgin Media who, along with some of the smaller FTTP suppliers, don’t use Openreach and instead have their own networks.