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City of London Corp Tackles Openreach’s FTTP Wayleave Concerns

Monday, Aug 6th, 2018 (4:55 pm) - Score 3,970

The City of London Corporation has informed ISPreview.co.uk that they last week sent a letter to the heads of various agencies across the area. This seeks to encourage take-up of ultrafast FTTP broadband and highlights Openreach’s (BT) concern about the challenge of getting access permission from landlords.

London is a key focus for Openreach’s new “Fibre First” programme, which initially aims to roll-out their Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based ultrafast broadband ISP technology to cover 3 million UK premises by the end of 2020 (possibly rising to 10 million by c.2025).

As part of this it’s estimated that around 12,000 premises across the the City of London area will be given access to this service during 2018, although at the same time Openreach hasn’t been shy about highlighting some of the obstacles they’ve been facing (here).


Some of the most tedious issues stem from the often costly challenge of securing permission from landlords to access large buildings (i.e. wayleaves). The City of London Corporation (CoLC) has already done some good work to tackle this by attempting to standardise the process / templates involved (here), while their agreement with Openreach seeks to deliver FTTP infrastructure at no extra cost to landlords.

Nevertheless Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, recently highlighted another problem: “One obstacle we face is with the owners of big buildings … it’s tough in London to work out who owns buildings and contact them, it’s quite unique as its an international city and buildings are owned by people across the planet. I worry that some connections could take years if the building owners don’t come forward.”

In response the Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee, Catherine McGuiness, last week issued a new letter to the heads of various agencies across their patch and called on them to tackle the problems that had been raised.

Letter Extract

Configuration of the network has already begun with over half of the City now being enabled for FTTP by the end of July 2018, and the whole of Square Mile being completed by December 2018, with existing ducts being used to ensure fast connections to avoid street works, and no installation costs being apportioned to landlords.

In order to connect buildings to FTTP, Openreach requires landlord consent in the form of a wayleave, and despite its best endeavours they are finding it difficult engaging landlords to agree access.

The lack of engagement is a highly frustrating matter for Openreach, having undertook to prioritise the City to make the necessary investment to deliver a wholesale network, but also for the City Corporation given our longstanding advocacy around improving connectivity.

Without sufficient take up there is a real danger that this opportunity could fall away with Openreach having to concentrate their efforts elsewhere in the UK, given their national roll out plans of FTTP and the delivery targets put in place by Government.

I would like to request your assistance in cascading this message down to both your asset and portfolio management teams to ensure your clients are fully aware of this new service as a standard provision in buildings. Openreach has developed an “expression of interest” form to allow building owners/agents to request their property to be surveyed for connection. The form can be accessed with other information on FTTP at the following address: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/fibrebroadband .

The Government’s new Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) also proposed a number of related changes to help tackle tedious wayleaves (here) and encourage the deployment of “full fibre” (FTTP/H) networks to cover 100% of UK premises by 2033, although it may be awhile before all of that is fully introduced.


We should point out that problems with wayleaves like this are not unique to Openreach and other ISPs have expressed similar concerns. Clive Selley has also previously proposed that every large building should display their owner details, which might then be held in a central registry for operators to access when needed.

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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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32 Responses
  1. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

    “Clive Selley has also previously proposed that every large building should display their owner details, which might then be held in a central registry for operators to access when needed.”
    Or Openreach could pay for something rather than beg the government to help them again.

    1. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

      £2.50 + VAT

    2. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Knowing which offshore fund owns a building doesn’t necessarily help you get in contact with somebody who can provide wayleave though.

    3. Avatar photo dean says:

      ^^ In that case neither would the display on the building display an actual person name, only the organisation/group/fund/trust etc etc. As pointed out there is already ways to find the information.

    4. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      You’re seriously trying to say that Openreach, planning to build FTTP at a cost of maybe £200+ per premises for apartments and £300-500 commercially more widely, are asking for government help to avoid paying for Land Registry searches?

    5. Avatar photo Moose says:


    6. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      @CarlT if the information which Clive Selley of Openreach would like on every building is already available elsewhere then why do you think he wants it placed on every building? If its not to make life easier and cheaper for Openreach.

      Even if it is just to make life easier and nothing to do with costs to get that data, then it is still a stupid idea in this day and age.

      I doubt the government would want to advertise all the buildings which they do work out of within the city which the people know little about. You may as well paint a big red target on those that were little known about before with the words blow me up or kill everyone in here. To make life even easier for the nutcases of this world.

      I also would not want my details plastered on any large building in the centre of the city i owned for any tom dick or harry to read. Its bad enough when beggers write to lottery winners for money or try to scam similar people without advertising more people of wealth for those with no scruples to send their junk or beg to.

      Ignoring all the serious stuff there is then the simple case of privacy. Would you want to post your full name and address on here? I doubt it, so why would you be so happy for others to advertise their details to the general public of the world via another means?

      It is a ridiculous (Typical Openreach) idea on so many levels if you really stop and think about it. I imagine that is why there is an official government means you are supposed to go through to get that information, to help prevent things like just 3 of the many examples i could think.

  2. Avatar photo A_Builder says:


    The issue is that the Land Registry search leads you to a shell company which leads you to a law firm – if you can discover who runs the shell.

    This is the whole Panama Papers thing running in a slightly different direction. There are a number of tax efficient nations that actively promote this kind of thing.

    We run into it the whole time with Part Wall Awards.

    So in this case I have some sympathy with OR but the name plate idea won’t help as the owners won’t want to disclose their ownership.

    This is purely a reflection on the amount of money that has been laundered through the UK property washing machine.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Yes, very aware, my point was how absurd the accusation that Openreach are trying to skimp on Land Registry searches was.

      When people try and level criticisms like those it takes away the impact of perfectly legitimate criticism. This is something that happens in all walks of life and is why many companies, politicians, etc, have shut down somewhat when dealing with the public.

    2. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Why do you think the government will not just share their entire database with Openreach then? Would not need any name plates then would we.

    3. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Umm because the database itself as it stands doesn’t actually help in a number of cases. Writing to an anonymous shell company in a tax haven somewhere, which will be all the Land Registry has, doesn’t tend to get you very far when you’re trying to ascertain who actually owns a property.

      Openreach aren’t asking for free access to the data as much as asking for better data, and they have a point. Property ownership in the UK can be very opaque.

    4. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      I understand entirely what you are stating and your information about ghosts/shells owning property is entirely valid… HOWEVER if you continue to follow the logic through it still makes no sense as to why Openreach want name/address plates on each building.

      1) If you made a law right now to say the persons or organisation has to have a name plate on the building then no doubt they would just still list their ghost/shell identity on the address/name plate. The government would know any different unless they are going to check every name plate to make sure it is a real person or organisation first.

      2) If the government are going to check every name/address plate first for REAL details and not ghosts/shells that then defeats the purpose of the name/address plate in the first place as the government would then have an actual database of property owners rather than shells/ghost…. The name/address plate would not be needed.

      2) If basically a ghost/shell can own property in the UK and the government do not currently know who actually owns the buildings then how do you propose the government stop this flaw short of lengthy new legislation which could take years to implement? Even if you implemented the law quick you then have to go through the registry and find which property ownership is genuine and which is ghosts/shells again taking considerably time.

      3) Even if the government could put an end to ghosts/shells owning property and have a database of actual real people or organisations that own a building then why would Openreach still need/want a name/address plate on every building??? Surely with a new database of actual owners Openreach could go to government and acquire the new list/database of actual property ownership and not need address plates on the building? Surely squiring such a database would also be much quicker and easier then looking for address plates on each building!

      THUS WE GO FULL CIRCLE and the idea of having an address plate on a building makes NO SENSE.

      Changing the law/s to not allow faceless/ghosts/shells to own property or forcing them to disclose real details you may have an argument/point for implementing that (i still see privacy issues).

      Though if that was implemented why would Openreach still need a name plate on the building? When the government would then have an accurate ownership list.

      Also government being government do you think they are then going to give this type of information away for free???

      The idea sounds all rosy to begin with until you really think about it, the logic behind it and the length and cost of putting the process in place… Personally i could name a few more important things the government could be doing with their time.

    5. Avatar photo brian says:

      “If the government are going to check every name/address plate first for REAL details and not ghosts/shells that then defeats the purpose of the name/address plate in the first place as the government would then have an actual database of property owners rather than shells/ghost…. The name/address plate would not be needed.”

      Agree 110%……. Logic dictates if you suddenly stop shell corporations owning buildings or force them to provide real details you would update your database you have already to reflect it.

      “Also government being government do you think they are then going to give this type of information away for free???”

      Which would explain why what you said was right to begin with. Openreach would not want to pay the cost involved to obtain the database, far easier for them to send a staffer to go look at a plaque on a building while he is out on his rounds in the area.

      Its quite easy to see through Openreaches little scheme….

      A) say you want to enable between 3 and 10 Million premises with FTTP (at least that was their last numbers i read)
      B) Want to pick on the easiest NON shell organisation buildings first, to gain the wayleave
      C) Does not want to pay any fees involved in finding out if a shell or real person owns the building which at the current £3 PER PREMISE land registry fee for 3 Million properties would be a nice little 9 Million extra in expense.

      That is why they want the address plate on the building see they do not have to get the details from the government even if it were free, they want to be able to generate their own database, and then pick and choose.

      Ironic as Openreach want to charge people for maps of their ducts for PIA and similar, but they want people to give up their privacy to display their details on a name plate to suit them. They can F*** Off they have had enough help and still failed.

    6. Avatar photo FibreFred says:

      One of Carpetburns most bizarre trolls!

    7. Avatar photo FibreFred says:

      And multi id posting as well still going strong. Brian agreeing with his own comments via a different id. What a surprise.

    8. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      The only person that seems to have replied to thereself is you. Wake up on the wrong side of the bed again?

  3. Avatar photo Gavin Pidduck says:

    This City of London communications initiative should state and be applicable to All fuĺl fibre Gigabit broadband providers including Hyperoptic. Competition drives more choice for the end customers, better customer service and competitive price packages.

  4. Avatar photo Rahul says:

    I went to https://communityfibre.openreach.co.uk/cityoflondon
    And registered the form including Building Housing Estate Manager & Technical Services Manager with their full names, email addresses and telephone numbers.

    Personally I don’t think this is going to work as I have done the same with Hyperoptic and the building authority even if they are contacted will simply ignore the fibre proposals.

    My building has 82 dwellings/units with more than half of them being leaseholders. I’m sure the residents or property owners will have no problem with providing permission for the installation of fibre and equipment within their premises.

    The problem will be with building owners providing wayleave. Clive Selley is worried that some connections may take years if building owners don’t come forward. I’d say it’s not some, it’s most!

    You only need to take a look at the Hyperoptic map itself https://hyperoptic.com/map/?residential
    As we can see mostly the entire City of London struggles with wayleave. Most residential buildings are still marked in grey. Very few properties are orange – Agreement granted or green already supported for the ratio of the hundreds of properties.

    I have doubts about BT OR being able to make agreements for 3 million premises by the end of 2020. On paper it’s an exciting ambition. But it’s probably not going to happen for residential properties. Maybe for office buildings wayleaves are easier.

    It’s going to take a much more radical and drastic approach with representatives from BT OR actively contacting building authorities or even physically visiting the building estate offices to speak and persuade them directly. Just for Openreach to sit in their backside expecting building owners to come forward will not work for the majority of the buildings, neither is registering interests from residents going to work either as this has little influence in convincing the building managers to sign agreements.

    1. Avatar photo dean says:

      “I went to https://communityfibre.xxxxxxxxxx
      And registered the form including Building Housing Estate Manager & Technical Services Manager with their full names, email addresses and telephone numbers.”

      For anyone thinking of doing the same i suggest you carefully read BT’s privacy policy first.

  5. Avatar photo Daniel Beyzade says:

    Surely the building already have an openreach wayleave for the existing copper based services. Does this not permit the use of the existing ducting / infrastructure?

    1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      It depends.

      Some of the wayleaves are very broad, others are very very specific and then there are deemed wayleaves from the ‘80’s & ‘90’s……….

      If the wayleaves specified insulated copper wire it is pretty specific. If it specifies telephony apparatus then there is more chance.

    2. Avatar photo Rahul says:

      You know I thought about this!

      But perhaps because copper cables were installed 140 years ago in most of the blocks. Ok many blocks are not over 100 years old. But even if a building is 30-50 years old on average the authority is completely different. Even if some of them are alive they have no power or interest anymore as they don’t work for these buildings anymore. Buildings like my own was once council owned and is now privatised. The wayleave that once council issued for copper will not apply when a private company takes over.

      Back then wayleave was easier somewhat because there was a sense of desperation that without copper there is no telephone communication. There was no other alternative wireless technology either.

      But now many building estate owners will have an attitude, “but you’ve got internet and telephone already, what’s the urgency for Fibre?”

      And it’s this attitude that is delaying the wayleave process. Not to mention those years red tapes were non-existent. Life was more simple back then. People were also more social back in those days. Now people have become very mechanical, few care about other people’s needs. It’s all about money. Giving wayleave for Fibre is more of a discretion from an authority that they don’t feel obliged to do as it doesn’t give them any extra pay bonus.

      That’s why they aren’t bothering to do anything about it. Only severe pressure will work. Just expecting the building owners to come forward will never ever work unless they have a pecuniary interest which they individually will not have!

    3. Avatar photo dean says:

      “…But perhaps because copper cables were installed 140 years ago in most of the blocks.”

      Er i do not think so 140 years ago would put the year at 1878. In January 1878 Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his recently developed telephone to Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. So dunno how you think “most” blocks had telephone lines by that time LOL

    4. Avatar photo Rahul says:

      My memory serves me correct, I’m not confabulating. It is indeed more than 140 years ago in fact! https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/07/mps-will-lose-landlines-national-copper-shortage-means-suppliers
      This is an article from only 1 month ago. There is also another article I read from 4 years ago saying the same. Copper is more than 140 years old that’s why it’s not fit for purpose!

      “It is the system that dates back to Alexander Bell’s original creation more than 140 years ago.”
      2018-1878=140 years ago.

      Maybe not most blocks having copper lines, but many did. At least in the last 50-100 years I’d say most of the blocks supported telephone lines. But that is still a very, very long time and things were very different back then, wayleave was not an issue but it is an issue now as laws have changed and red tapes have been introduced.

    5. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

      @Rahul – that article is complete nonsense. VOIP has taken over from circuit switching and still uses copper wires. With CAT5/6 cabling instead of twisted pairs. Cisco are a supplier used by many.

    6. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Im not sure what he is even trying to state with that link, and it has nothing to do with what happened 140 years ago.

      I also agree with you @Thefacts (which is a pleasant surprise) the news item is nonsense start to finish, even the headline about copper shortages is ridiculous. Within the same story they go on about buying new handsets for their VOIP system (i guess those must contain some new precious metal in the basic circuit board of these handsets that is not copper with the shortage eh 😉 )

      @Thefacts You are also entirely correct about VOIP also. The ridiculous story even tries to make out that the VOIP system and Skype which they plan on using in some way requires fibre optic internet.

      The Westminster exchange AFAIK still does not even have FTTC or FTTP services available from it. So if there is any REAL news in his linked story, it maybe that exchange finally gets enabled for FTTC or FTTP.

      Oh and to even think “most” tower block buildings or even a significant number had telephone lines of any type before the invention was even demonstrated in this country is highly confused thinking (to be polite about things). For the first few years there was only a few hundred phone lines in total within the ENTIRE country never mind serving tower blocks onmass.

    7. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      Sorry I should have explained better.

      Telecom would historically refuse to connect a building to the network without a standard wayleave.

      OR are eating Telecom / BT’s own mess.

      As by that period of way-leave they perfectly well knew the future was fibre.

    8. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

      @un4h731x0rp3r0m – this has nothing to do with FTTP/C on Westminster exchange. Large businesses typically have dedicated lines for connectivity and the HoP would have something fairly secure away for anything shared by the masses, and possibly not supplied by BT/OR.

    9. Avatar photo Rahul says:

      @un4h731x0rp3r0m: What I am saying is that copper telephone technology was here 140 years ago, it is outdated and not suitable for modern internet technology. It was designed only for telephone communication. It is not in most buildings at the time of development. Slowly over time it was installed across entire blocks of residential properties. Now my 20 floor building was built in 1968 that is 50 years ago it came with cables from the beginning because it is always easier to cable buildings during their construction compared to those that have already been built. If we are to track down wayleave for buildings in the last 50-100 years it can give us an idea how the rate of wayleave pace was achieved for copper.

      Westminster Parliament was a very old building that was built over one thousand years ago. But most residential buildings are much newer in the era when copper has already been here. I am saying it’s easier to grant wayleave for copper because it was the only available technology back then and newly built buildings were easier to grant wayleave as they came with copper by default, much in the same way as now newly built buildings have FTTP from the beginning.

      But with Fibre building owners don’t see it as a priority/urgency as they have an attitude that the residents already have standard broadband and phone, “what more do they want?” This is the reason why wayleave is so hard to push forward and it will take years for the UK to achieve 100%, it’s highly unlikely that it will happen by 2033 due to the delayed wayleave agreements which will inevitably happen.

    10. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “@un4h731x0rp3r0m – this has nothing to do with FTTP/C on Westminster exchange. Large businesses typically have dedicated lines for connectivity and the HoP would have something fairly secure away for anything shared by the masses, and possibly not supplied by BT/OR.”

      You are probably right about the Houses of Parliament or if they do not have what you describe already (IE dedicated/secure lines) it is probably what they will have once the old stuff is done away with. The FTTC/H thing i mentioned was more of a attempt to just find something positive out of the garbage news item he posted, i see now from what you have pointed out even that hope was a stretch.

      “@un4h731x0rp3r0m: What I am saying is that copper telephone technology was here 140 years ago”

      NO that is not what you said you clearly tried to claim most tower blocks had phone lines over 140 years ago, not that the technology came about 140 years ago. Stop making it up as you go along.

      “Westminster Parliament was a very old building that was built over one thousand years ago.”

      What you refer to is from the Anglo Saxon period and neither of the buildings from that period you are thinking exist today. Neither building back then externally or internally looks anything like what exists today.

      Real construction to something of at least some resemblance (and i use that lightly) to what you have today (at least part of the recognised footprint) started around 1540 and the ‘project’ lasted neigh on 300 years until a fire in 1834 destroyed much of what was there.

      It was only after the fire in 1834 (you may of heard about that in some old comedy sketches about the Exchequer’s and his stockpile of tally sticks) which destroyed around 2/3rd’s that the building/s which you would recognise today both internally and externally actually got constructed and was completed around 1860-1870.

      The second world war then came and again lots got destroyed though luckily not to the point that the entire building/s had to be built again this time around.

      So NO not over 1000 years old unless you are actually saying entire different buildings that had the same or similar names means its the same building.

      Furthermore in regards to telephone lines….
      Message and Letter boards where MPs can receive letters and telephone messages, are within the Members lobby these were designed for the use and installed in the early 1960s.

      https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/virtualtour/ (click on members lobby and the ‘i’ to the far left of your screen)

      So highly unlikely to have had a significant phone system, if any, almost 100 years before they had an official place to even collect phone messages.

  6. Avatar photo Daniel Beyzade says:

    But the wayleave is attached to the property and is still in place with a change of ownership. E.G I had to sign a wayleave with Gigaclear recently and it states that the wayleave is attached to the property and should be stored with the properties deeds for future owners…. a change of ownership does not invalidate the wayleave….

    1. Avatar photo un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      That is incorrect and often confused..
      A Wayleave Agreement, is a personal agreement between an organisation and the landowner.
      A Deed of Easement, (also sometimes known as Deed of Grant) is a permanent right registered against the title deeds of a property.

      Wayleaves do NOT automatically transfer to new owners, Deeds of Easement do.

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