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Even Rich Urban Appartments in London Struggle to Get Superfast Broadband

Monday, April 7th, 2014 (10:11 am) - Score 1,318
one_hyde_park_in_london_uk

The challenge of bringing faster broadband connectivity to the masses is not solely a rural issue and nor is it always a matter of wealth, much as the millionaire residents of the One Hyde Park development in Knightsbridge (London) have begun to find out. Sometimes not even buying a modern £20m+ apartment will get you better than an ADSL line.

According to Wikipedia, One Hyde Park (aka – One Hyde Park: The first European Residences at Mandarin Oriental, London) is a major residential and retail complex, located just opposite Harrods, which includes three retail units totalling 385,000 sq ft and 86 residential properties (Multi-Dwelling Units) marketed with prices starting at around £20 million (or how about this one for £68m).

It’s clearly a beautiful place to live, if you can afford it, and so you’d naturally assume that the developers would have also sorted out some sort of arrangement to include a decent broadband connection. However, despite only recently being completed, The Guardian notes that homes in One Hyde Park can currently only get the most basic of copper line based broadband connectivity.

The local area should already have access to BT’s up to 80Mbps capable hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology but in this instance the issue might be one of Exchange-Only Lines (EOL), which don’t utilise street cabinets and so can be more complicated to resolve (leaves you stuck with slow old ADSL). Amazingly there are islands of EOLs in pockets around London and many are similarly surrounded by FTTC connectivity.

In an ideal world they would have wired the property up with true a fibre optic (FTTP / FTTH) connection when it was being built but apparently that was an afterthought even for millionaires.

A Spokesperson for BT said:

The presence of exchange-only lines can limit our options for delivering fibre but we work hard to deliver a fibre-based solution to such premises where we can. The vast majority of our rollout is FTTC. The technology enables us to deliver high-speed fibre broadband to the widest possible footprint much more rapidly and cost-effectively than would otherwise be possible using FTTP.”

Obviously we don’t feel too sorry for those with more than a few bob in their pockets to spare and this proves how it can sometimes take more than wealth to ensure that you can get a superfast broadband connection. In that respect the millionaires of Knightsbridge are by no means alone. Plenty of wealthy and poor people alike, across both rural and urban areas, are still stuck on slower connectivity.

Some operators, such as Hyperoptic, are working to plug these holes with 1Gbps capable FTTH/P lines and even BT are deploying a similar service, albeit at speeds of 330Mbps, to various other MDU and high rises around the United Kingdom. Never the less these deployments take time, money and often require the building management company to make a request for the connectivity.

Admittedly neither BT’s FTTP nor Hyperoptic’s fibre developments existed when One Hyde Park was in the planning and early construction phases but the developer could certainly have done a better job. Today people increasingly need good broadband connectivity and ADSL just isn’t going to cut it for most of those.

The Government and BT are working to extend fixed line superfast speeds to 95% of the population by 2017 but some of the remaining 5% could still be in urban areas, albeit in a geographic minority compared to the issues faced by remote rural communities. But demand is demand, even millionaires enjoy the ability to watch HD video online, and some of our own surveys have shown that not having superfast connectivity could discourage buyers (here).

After all if you’re going to sell apartments for upwards of £20m then why not spend a few tens or hundreds of thousands extra to build out your own fibre optic connectivity? Perhaps they thought it would be too expensive.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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