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Openreach and Grosvenor Co-Investment Deal for Ultrafast FTTP in London

Thursday, September 28th, 2017 (9:00 am) - Score 1,494

Openreach’s (BT) roll-out of Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband tech has been given a boost by their first co-investment deal with a major UK landowner (Grosvenor Britain & Ireland), which will see their network being expanded across the firm’s London estate (130 sites).

The company’s estate exists in the heart of the West End, reflecting around 130 residential and business sites across Mayfair and Belgravia (i.e. more than 600 homes and businesses). In the grander scheme of things that’s only a tiny slice of Openreach’s current aim to reach 2 million UK premises with FTTP by 2020, although similar deals with other landowners are expected to follow.

On top of that the operator claims that “hundreds more properties” in the area will also gain access to their slower ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) service as a result of the deal. The agreement forms part of Grosvenor’s 5-year £2 million digital investment programme, which includes new broadband as well as WiFi and mobile connectivity upgrades.

Kim Mears, Openreach MD of Infrastructure Delivery, said:

“We’re investing heavily in the infrastructure London needs to support its thriving digital economy, and our partnership with Grosvenor is a great example of that.

We want to build a much larger full fibre network across the UK, and with the right conditions we believe we could make FTTP available to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s – but the engineering, commercial and operational challenges are significant.

There’s no doubt that greater collaboration will help us to overcome these challenges, so we’re working closely with landowners, developers, Communications Providers and government to achieve that. Co-investment models like this one are part of the answer, and we’re keen to replicate this with other landowners and developers throughout the UK.”

Will Bax, GBI Executive Director for the London Estate, said:

“We have a 20 year vision that our London estate, at the heart of the West End, works harder for its communities and all Londoners by adapting – with better streets, greener spaces and more active and enterprising places that appeal to the many.

This digital upgrade, the first of its kind in a landmark deal, confirms our commitment to the long-term vision we have for this great London estate.”

Work on the deployment has already begun and the aim is to complete this by July 2018. Openreach claims that over 96% of premises across London can now order “superfast speeds of 30Mbps” or above and the focus now is on how best to tackle that final 4%, which in being such a big city still represents a significant number of homes and businesses.

Sadly many properties in central London are still suck on awful pure copper Exchange Only Lines (EOL), which are notoriously difficult and expensive to upgrade via network rearrangement work.

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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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13 Responses
  1. h42422 says:

    … and in SE16, pure aluminium, not even copper. Which means some FTTC rearrangements produce awful speeds hovering around 20Mbps, which is of course better than 2Mbps we now enjoy. It means, however, that many people in the areas affected will not stop moaning any time soon.

    Projects like this providing FTTP instead of FTTC would be desperately needed elsewhere, too, but funding is still impossible to arrange.

    1. Joe says:

      Is it mainly a funding issue? For central London getting permissions to dig exceptionally busy streets can’t be a nightmare.

    2. h42422 says:

      That is the message from Openreach and Virgin. Yes, they complain about permissions, but in our particular area this does not seem to be a problem. Hyperoptic seems to be happily installing fibre. They do not need to dig, they seem to be using existing ducts and opening manhole covers on walkways.

      Delivering power to FTTC cabinets might be a different thing, but none of the cabinet works I have seen in SE16 around us have required any road closures. The problem is, FTTC is just a very wrong technology in an area where local cabling is aluminium.

      Most rearranged lines would not benefit anything from G.Fast. This would mean paying a lot for a network rearrangement, that would only produce a dead end technology situation that would be outdated within five years or so.

      Areas like this would require FTTP/FTTB to remove the obsolete aluminium cable from the equation, but OR does not seem to be doing that without gap funding from somewhere. In this project they get it from the landowner. In BDUK areas from government.

      In our area the only possibility would be residents as public money is not available, but there are no big landowners as in Mayfair. Most residents are tenants with little motivation to invest, and many property owners are buy to let landlords, and most of them might not be too enthusiastic either.

      Another problem is coordination, as this is London. I do not know everyone who lives in my block of eight flats. I do not know anyone who lives in townhouses 400 yards away. To do a FTTP/B community project, I would not know what would be the optimal area. If just us eight, then fine, but if cost would come down by including townhouses within 500 yard radius, we would need to figure out how to connect with people we have never met and whom we do not even want to meet. But it might also be more expensive for some to add houses a bit farther away to the project, as it would require much more work from OR to bring fibre to some of the interested townhouses in a large physical area.

      This far nothing has happened. Residents do not know how to do anything, OR is not giving us much tools to work with, and all schemes providing any gap funding are voucher schemes for businesses, and there are none in a purely residential area. I would assume some people would be willing to pay something if this was the way to solve the problem. No one is willing to take our money, though, as I would never want to start selling this to people I do not know, and others probably feel pretty much the same.

  2. Fastman says:

    Most rearranged lines would not benefit anything from G.Fast. This would mean paying a lot for a network rearrangement, that would only produce a dead end technology situation that would be outdated within five years or so. that is not the case as the network rearrange would enable the cabinet outsider the block (where it was decided to do it am most premises would be with 100 – 400 metres or the cabinet so not sure why you think it would not work – the issue is distance from the exchange massive amount of Exchange only lines and not aluminium a number of blocks were looked at in SE16 but developer/ managing agent didn’t wanted to do any thing with them — if you in a big enough block and there is a managing agent it could be done — depends if the commmunty want to actually do it

    1. h42422 says:

      Not really, as the cabinet would not be outside the block except for the few lucky. If you look at the SE16 map on thinkbroadband, the slow areas are the riverside and around docks.

      If you overlay this with Hyperoptic presence, you will see a correlation.

      In many cases, properties suffering from low speeds are scattered. To find enough properties to support a FTTC project, a large geographical area would need to be covered, as all the bigger blocks are already with Hyperoptic or could get it for free, and selling a community project to these would be impossible.

      This would mean the cabinet would be close to a lucky few, but the rest would be stuck with 300m long aluminium lines. That distance would be borderline for G.Fast with copper lines, aluminium would guarantee it cannot be improved.

      I would not pay a penny to get a 22Mbps VDSL line as a friend of mine now has, with a newly rearranged SE16 line. I would of course switch to it as it is better than 2.5Mbps, but to pay for a rearrangement producing this level of service would be ridiculous.

  3. Fastman says:

    so you fund an FTTP fro your block but don’t expect that to be cheap

    1. h42422 says:

      Thank you for pointing out the obvious. As I would be the only one of us eight both able and willing to pay something, this is currently beyond my financial means.

      Areas like this need a funding solution that goes beyond Openreach “community project”. There would be money available from residents, but currently no means to collect it. This would require something from either OR or council to allow the whole area be treated as one instead of trying to form 100 different community projects to solve a tiny bit of the problem. Someone would need to figure out what is the price tag to upgrade the whole area, how much of this can OR cover with their current business model, and then allow residents to pledge funds to cover the rest. This way there would be schools eligible for grants, and corner shops and other businesses eligible for vouchers.

      If every townhouse needs to do it by themselves, this will be clearly an impossible project, meaning the residents’ money that would be available, does not get spent.

  4. Fastman says:

    Another problem is coordination, as this is London. I do not know everyone who lives in my block of eight flats. I do not know anyone who lives in townhouses 400 yards away so how would it be able to run everyone is in the same situation as you and you deaing with many hundreds of premises

  5. nathan says:

    Not surprised.

    Grosvenor estate owns harley street.

    These medical establishment need to have FTTP to transmit medical imaging , operate robotic surgery etc

    Governor estates are just enabling their tenants to do their business or their tenants will take their business elsewhere.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Robotic surgery over a shared internet connection?

    2. Joe says:



    3. Ultraspeedy says:

      “Robotic surgery over a shared internet connection?”

      Considering (google quickly 😉 ) Some of the *cough* medical work and doctors which have graced Harley Street over the years i would not be shocked if they thought it would be a good idea. A quick ebay should also provide the tools a Milton-Bradley Big Trak 😀

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