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Openreach Signs Digital Connectivity Charter for Sheffield UK

Friday, September 20th, 2019 (5:19 pm) - Score 1,950
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Openreach (BT) and the Sheffield City Council have today signed a new ‘Digital Connectivity Charter‘, which aims to help improve the local coverage of “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband ISP networks across the city through various measures (e.g. a common approach to wayleaves and permit applications).

Eagle-eyed readers will no doubt recall that Openreach only recently added Sheffield to their list of “Fibre First” cities (here), which means that the city will be among some of the first areas across the United Kingdom to benefit from the operator’s on-going rollout of 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.

Exact details of the new Digital Connectivity Charter haven’t been made clear in the announcement, although it seems to provide the Council with some assurance that Openreach will work to “minimise the amount of construction work required, and that any that is required will meet the Council’s quality and safety standards and will minimise disruption.”

We hope that the agreement will also help Openreach to access some larger buildings (MDUs) in the city (possibly social housing), which is a known bugbear.

Matthew Hemmings, Openreach’s Director in the North, said:

“I’m impressed by Sheffield’s vision for digital connectivity, and by the way our two organisations are collaborating to work towards achieving a common goal. We both want to bring some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK to the front doors of tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the city as quickly as possible.

By removing barriers, such as being more flexible with how we work together on wayleaves and permit applications, Sheffield has set the benchmark. Our engineers will be able to work more efficiently and effectively, reusing existing duct and poles where possible, to minimise disruption to people living and working nearby.”

Councillor Bryan Lodge said:

“We want Sheffield to be recognised by the digital industry as an attractive place to invest, where the local authority proactively supports operators and removes barriers to the deployment of infrastructure.

“We accept that as a core city, there is much to do. Signing an agreement of this kind with Openreach shows that we are receptive to improving our digital reach and are ambitious to work with other companies that enable us to be at the forefront of 21st century communications. Sheffielders deserve it.”


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8 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew

    To be honest even if it was only FTTB for MDUs that would likely be sufficient for a long while. Though of course that does depends on internal wiring my new flat has Cat 6 throughout it but lot likely don’t just a thought.

  2. Avatar M

    Virgin Media have a large presence in Sheffield too. It will be interesting to see how they are going to respond to this news. The ball is in BT’s and 3’s (5G) courts now as the competition boils.

  3. Avatar John

    Much of Sheffield centre has only ADSL2 and no Virgin service either. BT have totally neglected Sheffield residents because there was no one to compete against, so why bother investing?
    Now we have unlimited sim packages, and 5G just around the corner with Sheffield being one of the cities for Three’s rollout. So is now the time they’ll upgrade the centre’s exchange? Probably not, and I would not wait for them to having already waited over a decade.

    • Avatar Phil

      It’s not the exchange that’s the problem, I am outside of the city centre but my cab is connected to the centre exchange.

      The “problem” as I understand it, is that the council had to get BDUK funding for the FTTC rollout (after the disaster that was Digital Region) and BDUK wouldn’t fund anything within the city centre radius.

      So you have the bizzare situation of cabs several K’s from the exchange getting much better speeds than ones close by.

    • Avatar John

      @Phil My understanding is that funding is only available in areas that are not commercially advantageous for BT to upgrade.

      The city centre obviously being heavily populated, and with huge demand for high speed internet should be very profitable for BT so therefore no funding. But as a captive market with no alternatives, they have chosen not to spend the money and here we are years after Digital region still stuck on ADSL2.

      Digital Region (which I was on) was a great service, best internet ever. However, it was a “disaster” as no one knew about it, so uptake was very low which led to its demise.

      Amazing that BT and local gov (some might say scandalous) could not find a way to continue the service given all the equipment was already there and working.

    • Avatar Andrew Campling

      “However, it was a “disaster” as no one knew about it, so uptake was very low which led to its demise.”

      Actually it was an unmitigated disaster for two reasons: firstly because it was too small to be of interest to the mainstream ISPs so they didn’t connect to it or market its services; secondly because it lost around £100m or so of tax payers’ money, something which was predicted at the outlet.

      Why would BT or any other network operator want to acquire network of unknown quality, quite possibly installed to a different spec, and therefore take on responsibility for its operation? Unless the assets were sold at a substantial discount, potentially then falling foul of state aid rules.

    • Avatar John

      @Andrew Campling It was the only time of my life where I actually felt a got any value for money out of my council tax. £100 million / 3000 users.

  4. Avatar Dan

    Shame the parts of Sheffield where its actually wanted for homes not commercially are “not-viable” according to BT….

    I live slap bang over the road from an exchange, yet I can get 28.6mb down and 6.4 up. There’s no virgin coverage here even though a 3 minute walk down the road shows a heavy investment from them.

    BT and OR really need to push out some non commercial fttp for people in estates. I know of at least 50 or so households on my side of the estate that want ultra fast, and I can garuntee there’s many many more as Virgins register my interest list for this estate was huge…

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