Mark Field on Broadband Success

For many months now, Mark has been ferociously lobbying both BT and the Secretary of State to wake up to the problem of poor superfast broadband coverage in Central London. In fact last year he tabled a parliamentary debate specifically on this subject after receiving countless representations from constituents fed up with the inability to get superfast for their homes, particularly those who relied on fast broadband for work.

Central government has rightly invested a huge amount of money rolling out superfast broadband given the calculation that for every £1 spent there is £20 in additional economic activity. However the commercial viability of installing superfast broadband remains, rather counterintuitively, a particular issue in central London.

This week, Mark met Ofcom to discuss the issue, liaised further with BT and contributed to a parliamentary debate on broadband to highlight the problems in urban areas. He was therefore delighted to receive this morning an email from Ofcom highlighting BT’s announcement yesterday of plans for an expansion of superfast in the borough of Westminster. Success at last! Here’s the news:

BT today announced plans for an expansion of high-speed fibre broadband in Westminster.

Openreach, BT’s local network business, will make fibre available to an additional 39,874 local homes and businesses in the next two years, taking the company’s total coverage for fibre in the borough to nearly 106,000 premises.

The new investment in Westminster is part of a city-wide programme that will increase overall fibre availability in London, which already stands at 95% according to independent analysis by*

The Openreach fibre network is already the largest in London, covering nearly three million homes and businesses.

BT is spending more than £3 billion on Openreach’s deployment of fibre across the UK, and the work in Westminster is part of an additional £50 million that the company earmarked for UK cities last year.

London is already one of the best connected cities in the world, with every business in the capital able to access speeds of 1Gb/s and above through special high capacity ultrafast dedicated lines. An independent study** already rates London second only to Seoul as the best in the world for broadband quality.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Openreach, said: “Openreach engineers have been working flat out to bring fibre to more than 23 million homes and businesses across the country in record time – and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. Our investment has helped make the UK’s broadband infrastructure among the best in Europe.

“Installing fibre in urban areas can be challenging, but thanks to new techniques and extra investment we will now be able to reach hundreds of thousands of additional homes and businesses across London.”

Councillor Philippa Roe, Leader of Westminster City Council, added “I’m delighted to see that BT Group is making a further investment in superfast fibre broadband within Westminster. I’ve been encouraging businesses and residents within the borough to register their interest in accessing superfast fibre broadband and it is great news to see this effort paying off. I would of course like all premises in the borough to have access to superfast fibre broadband and this is a good start in achieving that. I know our residents and businesses in the additional areas of Westminster where superfast fibre broadband will now be available will be very pleased.”

BT’s new investment is focusing on three areas:

  • Upgrading city cabinets that weren’t part of the original commercial plans due to technical challenges or local planning restrictions
  • Rolling out ‘fibre to the remote node’ (FTTRN) and to fibre broadband cabinets that serve multi-dwelling units, such as apartment blocks
  • Continuing to ensure the new fibre network is available on an ‘equivalent’ basis to all internet service providers that use the Openreach network. That means companies competing with BT Consumer and BT Business can deliver faster broadband to their customers, paying Openreach the same as BT’s own divisions.

Openreach’s fibre network is open to all broadband service providers on equal terms, ensuring that businesses and consumers benefit from intense competition, a wide choice of supplier and low prices.

Mark Field Local News