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Wandsworth UK Moots Superfast Fibre Optic Broadband for Council Flats

Tuesday, Nov 13th, 2012 (9:30 am) - Score 654

Wandsworth Council has announced it is “considering options” for partnering up with an ISP that could help to make superfast fibre optic (FTTH/P) broadband services available to the borough’s council flats and possibly also local businesses. But will doing so boost broadband uptake?

The council’s aim is apparently to ensure that “estate tenants can get online as easily as the rest of the borough“. It states that 85% of Wandsworth residents have some form of internet access, which falls to around two thirds among council tenants. But the council’s logic for this doesn’t appear to be entirely clear.

Wandsworth Council Statement

Currently there is nothing to stop tenants subscribing to broadband, but in blocks of flats this has traditionally been via copper wire. This means they had to pay line rental and delivery speeds are not always as fast as advertised.

Instead, they will be able to subscribe individually to the fibre optic broadband offered by the company chosen to work in partnership with the council. There would be no charge to the council, so no costs to pass onto council tax payers.

The council believes the super-fast speeds offered by broadband could help council tenants and leaseholders access online services – both from the council and others. Government benefits will merge into one monthly payment from October 2013 and it’s expected that this will need to be managed online.”

If there’s nothing to stop tenants subscribing to broadband “via a copper wire“, which is likely to be cheaper than a fibre optic service, then we can’t see why they’d suddenly rush to a superfast connection. The quality of the connection might not be the issue here and likewise there are already plenty of cheap broadband services around.

As Thinkbroadband points out, issues such as contract length, credit checks, lack of skills / education and some people simply having no desire for broadband could also play a part. The council should perhaps survey the affected areas before deciding upon the best solution.

Not that extending the reach of superfast broadband isn’t a good idea; indeed we’re all for it, yet the council need to understand that uptake itself is not something that would necessarily be improved by simply bringing even faster and potentially more expensive services into the area.

At this stage it’s still early days and the council’s housing committee will first have to agree to the plan at its meeting on 14th November.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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