Complete full fibre ‘could create tens of thousands of jobs in East’

An Openreach engineer at work

An Openreach engineer working on a full-fibre network - Credit: Openreach

The East of England workforce could be boosted by 91,000 people with a comprehensive full fibre broadband network, a study has found.

A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) — which was commissioned by UK digital network provider Openreach — says a nationwide rollout of full fibre — or hyperfast — broadband would also mean 28,000 people in the region could extend their working hours.

Helping carers, parents and over-65s to gain access to employment could contribute £2.3bn in gross value added to the East of England economy, it concluded.

Kieran Wines, regional partnership director for the East of England at Openreach — which is owned by BT Group — has welcomed the study.

“This report illustrates just how game-changing the roll-out of full fibre broadband across the East of England’s rural and remote communities could be,” he said.

“The pandemic has reinforced public recognition of the importance of high-quality broadband and we’re clear that fibre has a significant part to play in the region’s recovery.

“The CEBR findings show accelerating the build would pay huge dividends to the East of England economy as a whole and be instrumental in bringing people back into the workforce who haven’t previously had the ability to navigate other commitments or find opportunities in their local area.

“CEBR’s previous research explained the economic windfall in store for the UK with a nationwide upgrade – including a £59bn boost to productivity - £5.4bn of this in the East of England.

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“And this updated report highlights how full fibre can help to level up the UK, bringing up to more than 91,000 people back into the workforce in our region. This an opportunity we can’t afford to ignore.”

Openreach said it was investing millions of pounds in a full fibre rollout across the region — including many areas in the “hard-to-reach final third” category. 

Among the works under way are schemes in Norwich, Caister-on-Sea, Kings Lynn and Hunstanton in Norfolk and Bungay and Haverhill in Suffolk.
In December 2020 the company said it would be creating 2,500 new jobs — with an estimated 2,800 jobs boost to sub-contractors — including 295 jobs in the East of England to help with the roll-out.
Currently, 3,300 of its 34,500-strong workforce either lives or works in the region.