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BT's Openreach commits to connect 3.2 million hard-to-reach UK premises

LONDON (Reuters) - Openreach, the networking arm of Britain's BT BT.L, plans to build gigabit-capable broadband to 3.2 million homes and businesses in hard-to-reach areas after regulator Ofcom proposed a supportive pricing regime on Wednesday.

The network roll-out is part of BT’s ambition to spend 12 billion pounds on building full-fibre connections to 20 million premises by the mid to late 2020s if it receives the backing of the government and regulator.

Ofcom said it was consulting on allowing a “regulatory asset base approach” for investment in hard-to-reach regions of the country that would allow BT to recover its investment by indexing the cost of slower copper connections and allowing pricing flexibility on fibre.

Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said full fibre technology could underpin the UK’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, we’re building a new, ultra-reliable full-fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come,” he said.

“It’s Ofcom’s proposals that give us the right conditions to build commercially in hardest-to-reach areas.”

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison

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