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UPD BT Criticised by Campaign for Better Broadband in London’s Square Mile

Monday, July 28th, 2014 (8:10 am) - Score 834

The City of London Corporation has criticised BT for an “unacceptable” failure to deliver superfast broadband connectivity to businesses based within the heart of London’s Square Mile, which it hopes to put right by developing a new strategy and launching a campaign to help map demand for the service.

At present the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme is predominantly focused on helping more sub-urban and outlying rural areas (i.e. locations where commercial investment is more difficult to achieve and EU state aid rules more amenable), while the case for private sector investment in the heart of major cities is generally deemed to be much stronger (less need for public funding).

However, as we’ve written before (here), it’s not always that simple (e.g. physical obstructions, access rights, road work fees/rules etc.). The end result can be a patchwork of connectivity, with some streets able to access “superfast broadband” (FTTC/P) and others left to struggle by on a mix of older and slower solutions or significantly more expensive leased lines (much like the problem in nearby Tech City – here). Not to mention that this can sometimes affect local home users too.

Mark Boleat, Chairman of Policy for the City of London, said (CityAM):

It is a major concern that firms in the Square Mile regularly complain that BT fails to deliver in a timely manner and provide the level of service required, notably through its decision not to roll out superfast broadband. Market failure of this kind is clearly unacceptable for a world-leading global financial centre, and highlights that poor connectivity is not just an issue affecting rural areas.

The attractiveness of the City – and several other locations in London and elsewhere – is greatly disadvantaged by the lack of fast broadband connectivity at an affordable level. Larger organisations can access expensive dedicated leased lines and there is a range of suppliers available to provide these. However, these lines are unaffordable for the 13,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and 9,000 residents based here, thereby restricting them to copper-based slower broadband.”

The Government’s Connection Vouchers scheme, which following legal challenges and EU competition concerns ended up replacing the original £100m broadband infrastructure project, does at least offer SME businesses access to grants worth up to £3,000 +vat to get a superfast (30Mbps+) connection installed. But this approach is proving to be less popular than the Government might have hoped (here).

The City of London describes the voucher scheme as a “step in the right direction“, but they also want to go further and have launched a campaign (register your interest) to help prove that there is “strong demand” for access to affordable superfast broadband. Meanwhile a growing number of rivals to BT’s throne, such as Hyperoptic, are also entering the fray but they tend to focus more on larger Multi-Dwelling Units (MDU) and or big office blocks. Lest we not forget the existence of cable provider Virgin Media or wireless ISP Relish, it’s not just a ball game for BT to play.

Meanwhile the local city authority claims to be on the path to correcting the current problems by developing a new strategy to roll-out “fast, ubiquitous, cheap wired and wireless communications” to all, although Boleat doesn’t elaborate. Separate reports suggest that the City of London have been talking with the city’s other local councils (e.g. Southwark) about a partnership to tackle the issue, possibly through an agreement with a commercial partner, although the details have not yet been disclosed.

The local authority will also need to tread very carefully so as not to run into the same EU state aid rules dilemma as the Government has already experienced, assuming of course that direct public funding is even proposed.

UPDATE 11:25am

BT has kindly given us a response.

A BT Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

As the Corporation of London say themselves, businesses throughout the Square Mile can access ultra-fast broadband on dedicated lines specifically designed for companies.

These are normally the most appropriate services for businesses given their demands are typically very different from consumers.

We are in talks with the Corporation of London about how to increase availability of lower-priced fibre broadband – which is primarily aimed at consumers, home workers and the very smallest SMEs.”

Leave a Comment
41 Responses
  1. Avatar Ignitionnet

    So, about that digital divide people in our more rural areas are constantly banging on about?

    This is merely a high profile example. This is far from a unique scenario.

  2. Avatar GNewton

    This is also known as the BT postcode lottery.

    • Avatar Unknown101

      Any other company is allowed to go in there and provide a better service it’s not just restricted to BT you know…

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Other companies though are not idiotic enough to claim they are aiming for 90+% coverage and then failing to deliver to the countries capital.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      You mean one square mile of?

      As others have said.. its not up to BT alone, Hyperoptic, Virgin… could all deploy in this affluent area… it shouldn’t need any funding at all.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      I never said anyone should need funding to do it did i?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      No I am saying it BDUK funding should not be needed I that area

    • Avatar Raindrops

      I guess BT just do not want to enable the area

    • Avatar FibreFred

      And any other telco, its not just for BT to do

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Other companies have not had millions in funding or claiming they are going to cover 90% of the UK. So there is no reason for others to do it.

  3. Avatar Raindrops

    Indeed also what is the BT spokesperson on about with their “…businesses throughout the Square Mile can access ultra-fast broadband on dedicated lines specifically designed for companies.” quote.

    If all businesses are supposed to have lease line then whats all this rubbish they are selling to businesses business.bt.com/packages/broadband-and-phone/

    Or is it, what would be the obvious from BT of. They are rich we can make a killing by forcing them to buy lease lines from us. Rather than give them conventional business products we sell.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Many businesses, particularly in the financial sector, will not want their comms mixed up with people downloading games all day. Plenty of telcos digging up the centre of London so what is the real problem?

    • Avatar Raindrops

      What are those business packages i linked to if BT spokespeople think businesses should all be buying lease lines?

  4. Avatar Unknown101

    Maybe your countries capital but not my countries capital. Probably because as a business they don’t want to eat into their leased lines business which makes a lot of sense to me. No ones stopping another company going in there and providing a hybrid fibre, FTTP or wireless service that is better than the current ADSL one. Nice to see London not get preferential treatment for once, I say leave them till last.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      If next gen products are not available or have any intention of being available to big business as BT want to milk them for a lease line then maybe BT should revise their BS coverage figures for.

      Oh and London is the capital of the UK no matter what brain dead argument you want to apply to that well known piece of information.

    • Avatar Unknown101

      Yes capital city of the UK, but the capital of the country I live in is Cardiff and the broadband here is very good and fast – something more superior to London for once.

    • Avatar Ignitionnet

      Bits of Cardiff aren’t great either, however the stats for London are presented at a borough level, as each borough has a population the size of some cities and a couple of boroughs the same kind of population as Cardiff.

      The Square Mile is a curious and special case though and its situation isn’t normal for London.

      Please feel free to seek independence from the UK by the way. 🙂 It would be interesting to see how Wales would do.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      “Yes capital city of the UK, but the capital of the country I live in is Cardiff and the broadband here is very good and fast – something more superior to London for once.”

      Oh gawd do you need a geography lesson also.

      Wales is part of the UK. The capital of the UK is London.

      The capital of Wales is Cardiff. Cardiff is not the capital of the COUNTRY you live in only the REGION you live. :rolleyes:

      Wales is not a separate country though some based on what you have just came out with would probably think it a good idea if it were.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Oh dear Raindrops , a quick re-read shows you said countries capital , he responded saying its not his countries capital then you change your mind ( usual ) and change it to uk’s captial to suit your argument

    • Avatar Unknown101

      Raindrops – taken from the internet as you clearly don’t understand….

      “Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain” so yes Wales is a country of which the capital is Cardiff. Yes it is part of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales & Northen Ireland. So yes the capital of my country is Cardiff.

      Back to the topic – any other provider can come and build their network, BT’s only obligation is to provide them with a copper line which I’m sure they have. I’d like to see B4RN go in their and build out their network see if they have any supporters that will help dig this square mile of London.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Ill refer you back to Ignitionnets comment if you think you are a separate country……
      “Please feel free to seek independence from the UK by the way. 🙂 It would be interesting to see how Wales would do.”
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/07/bt-criticised-campaign-better-broadband-londons-square-mile.html#comment-145799
      Good that you still can not comprehend what a REGIONS capital is.

    • Avatar George

      Is this the same apparent separate Wales, First Minister being Carwyn Jones, appointed by the Her Majesty the Queen of ENGLAND on 12 May 2011?

      The same Carwyn Jones member of the Welsh Labour party which is the part of the UNITED KINGDOM Labour Party that operates in Wales?

      Yes totally separate country, obviously!!!!!!! Depending on what actual planet you were born on.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Yep that is the same one lol 😉

    • Avatar FibreFred

      And he talks to himself… just need No Clue now for the threesome

    • Avatar Raindrops

      The only one that talks to itself is you both on here and tbb, you even have a different bunch of names on there. “Neil” and admit it.

  5. Avatar Ignitionnet

    So if ‘fibre broadband’ is aimed at the very smallest SMEs and dedicated lines for businesses for everyone else what is the non-dedicated FTTPoD aimed at?

    • Avatar DTMark

      Local authorities, by being able to claim that people are within reach of a superfast broadband service, and pretending that spending on VDSL is some kind of strategic move which has a way forward?

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Ah Ignitionnet, that would be whoever BT move the goalposts to and claim what demographic that product is designed for. This will obviously change on a yearly possibly even monthly or weekly basis when it is shown just like in this news item the BS product is not available to the demographic it was originally aimed at.

    • Avatar Ignitionnet

      Obviously the posts moved earlier this year in the direction of the Superconnected Cities scheme which is sucking for take up. When that is done we will see.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Ah you mean the ridiculous here have £3000 scheme which will not be enough for your FTToD or leased line even if you do want it. Another cleverly crafted cauldron of BT and Government BS.

  6. Avatar New_Londoner

    I would image that businesses able to spend £50+ per square foot for rent can afford a leased line! and probably need one if they are in financial services.

    Not sure why the City of London thinks this is a BT problem, have they not heard of Virgin, Colt etc? If none think it worthwhile to invest, perhaps the City needs to look at itself, see what it needs to change to attract investment.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Roughly translated, does that mean “they’re people with money, they can pay our pensions; the regulator doesn’t allow us to get away with fleecing the residentials to the same extent”?

      Nobody else is getting a billion pounds of taxpayer’s money.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      As i said here DTMark
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/07/bt-criticised-campaign-better-broadband-londons-square-mile.html#comment-145787

      “Or is it, what would be the obvious from BT of. They are rich we can make a killing by forcing them to buy lease lines from us. Rather than give them conventional business products we sell.”

      God only knows what BT business FTTC packages are for now if businesses are supposed to buy lease lines. Ah well its a new yet equally brain dead BT excuse we have all come to expect.

    • @New_Londoner Ofcom in its definition for an analogue access line which facilitates cost recovery includes FTTP line where an ATA is deployed for telephony, so BT can claim the c £86pa.
      Given the asset life for drop wires is just 10 years then BT has been collecting more than enough to allow them to replace those on long lines using FTTP and an ATA.
      This notion of fibre access as a premium is pretty odd, where BT has deployed fibre for cost efficiency and capacity purposes in the core network and connectivity to exchanges for a very long time. Fibre is just a more efficient medium. If Fibre access is presented as a ‘premium’ there is some justification in the accusation that BT act as a barrier to SME getting access to better connectivity.

  7. Avatar Macchap

    @ FibreFred etc

    It’s “country’s” not “countries”.

    The former is an apostrophised possessive, as in, “my country’s capital city is…” The latter is plural, as in, “there are 212 recognised countries in the world”.

    As an occasional reader who rarely comments I only mention it because it’s grating reading your repeated mistakes when pointing out the supposed errors of each other.

    Too much bickering.

  8. Avatar Macchap

    “No Clue/Raindrops/whatever have you have on at that time in the morning

    So… so.. sad. 🙁 ”

    Without wanting to draw myself in, I don’t understand what this means.

  9. Avatar Macchap

    Also, it was unfair of me to call you out by name, I ought to have just addressed it to “All” or something along those lines. Apologies.

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