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Reading Council Propose 1Gbps Broadband for 75% of Borough

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 (5:02 pm) - Score 1,130
hyperoptic engineers talking near mdu

The Reading Borough Council has proposed a new agreement with UK ISP Hyperoptic that could result in them installing Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) initially to the authority’s own high-rise housing stock (subject to survey), but with the potential for further expansion to cover up to 75% of the geographic area of the Borough.

The “non-exclusivePortfolio Wayleave Agreement is due to be debated tomorrow and is intended to complement the existing Superfast Berkshire project, which has several general deployment contracts with Openreach (BT) and Gigaclear for a mix of FTTC and some FTTP technology to serve ordinary homes and businesses.

Meanwhile Hyperoptic have been busy deploying – commercially – their 1Gbps capable FTTB/P network to a number of large apartment blocks (MDUs) in the town since January 2016 (here), although over the past couple of years they’ve branched out and begun to tackle social housing via new wayleave (access) agreements. Today the ISP works with more than 35 Housing Associations and 11 Local Authorities via similar agreements.

The proposed installation work is set to be “fully funded” by Hyperoptic and the ISP would also deploy standard indoor WiFi for up to 3 community centres of the Council’s choice. “The location of the Council’s housing stock provides an arterial basis to build out the infrastructure on a North/South/East/West basis which, based on Hyperoptic’s analysis, could potentially increase coverage to 75% of the Borough subject to further investment and surveys over time,” said the council’s report.

John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Housing, said:

“High quality broadband is now an essential part of life for most people and allows residents to access many services, including the Council’s. This scheme will also provide a huge benefit to users of our community hubs.”

The somewhat aspirational proposal for 75% coverage is no doubt partly a reflection of Hyperoptic’s current aim to cover 2 million UK premises with 1Gbps fibre broadband by the end of 2021, with a future aspiration to potentially reach 5 million premises by 2024 (here), although they’ll need quite a bit more than the current £500m investment in order to deliver on all of that.

Nevertheless the provider is understood to have expressed “considerable interest in development across” Reading and appear to be serious about reaching 75% in the future. We suspect that this may require them to go beyond merely connecting MDUs and to enter into a much more competitive – as well as costly to tackle – space within the market. Time will tell, but getting those council MDUs sorted is an easy first step and plays to Hyperoptic’s strength.

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Mark Jackson
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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