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Community Fibre Aim Ultrafast Broadband for 500,000 London Homes

Friday, August 19th, 2016 (11:57 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 2,032)
community_fibre

Little known ISP Community Fibre, which specialises in rolling out 1Gbps+ capable fibre optic broadband (FTTP/B) networks to parts of London, has revealed an aspiration to bring superfast Internet connectivity to 500,000 homes in the city where current fixed line speeds are slow.

At present the provider, which also operates a slower wireless network for some locations and tends to specifically target large apartments (Multi-Dwelling Units) or office blocks, already has agreements in place with local authorities to operate in the Boroughs of Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and Hammersmith & Fulham. For example, last year saw the ISP roll-out their network to some 20,000 premises on a north Battersea council estate (here).

Community Fibre has now revealed, as part of their submission to Ofcom for Code Powers (i.e. quicker / easier approval of civil works via a simpler planning process), that they’re also targeting several districts in the London Docklands, Canary Wharf and the City of London areas. Many more may follow.

Community Fibre’s Code Powers Submission

It confirmed that it intends to expand this network (initially in the London areas) in order to provide high-speed electronic communications services to residential and business users that otherwise struggle to find affordably-priced high-speed broadband.

In particular, the Applicant has confirmed that it aims to provide three classes of products; (i) a fibre-optic connection which has the capability to support speeds of up to 2.5Gpbs upstream and 1.25Gpbs downstream for residential and business users; (ii) a leased line service via its partner Vonage Ltd which is particularly suitable for a number of businesses; and (iii) a dark fibre/shared duct access which will allow other operators to use their own equipment to access the Applicant’s network.

The Applicant confirmed its intention to offer superfast residential broadband speeds to over 500,000 homes in London where broadband speeds are below the national average at competitive prices. In particular, it suggested that its service would be at a lower cost than the services offered by its rivals and charged at a flat monthly rate to residents and businesses.

Community Fibre claims that London is “probably the most congested city in the UK when it comes to constructing greenfield utility infrastructure and that the only cost effective way for it to offer its services to the London Boroughs is to obtain access to BT Openreach’s network via its ‘Physical Infrastructure Access’ (PIA) product,” which is something they cannot do without Code Powers (i.e. it wouldn’t be “financially viable“).

At this stage the figure of 500,000 homes should be taken as an optimistic aspiration and is not accompanied by a clear time-scale. On top of that the ISP also has competition from established providers, not least Hyperoptic, BT and Virgin Media that are now rapidly rolling out FTTP/B style services of their own and in many of the same areas. Finding the money is often the hardest part.

Never the less it’s good to see another provider with big plans for the future and once again Ofcom look set to grant them the requested powers, albeit after a brief consultation. Existing packages start at just £20 per month for a 20Mbps service and rise to £40 for 1000Mbps, which includes a free installation.

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