Ingenious

3 February 2015

BT pilots new broadband technology in City of London

Speed

BT is pioneering a brand new technique which could deliver superfast broadband to hard-to-access locations in cities across the UK.

The new form of ‘fibre-to-the-basement’ technology - developed and funded by BT - is the first deployment of its kind anywhere in the country and is being tested out in two City of London buildings.

As a result of the trial, 225 homes in the Middlesex Street Estate and around 50 small businesses based at 65 London Wall will have access to download speeds of up to 80Mbps (from more than 130 different service providers) for the first time.

London is already one of the best connected cities in the world and some 14,000 businesses of all sizes within the Square Mile currently have access to world-leading business-grade services.

More than 90 per cent of London’s homes and businesses can also access lower-priced fibre broadband which is aimed at consumers, home workers and the very smallest SMEs. But a small minority of inner city buildings are served by ‘exchange-only’ lines and present a much bigger challenge to serve with this technology.

Breaking down the barriers

In these cases, consumers do have access to broadband at speeds of up to 20Mbps but there is often no physical space for BT to install street cabinets which house faster fibre broadband kit. There is also a huge cost and complexity involved in connecting a power supply, closing and digging up roads, and securing wayleaves for access to private land - all of which can prove prohibitive.

Local planning restrictions can also make new cabinets tricky to install, but BT hopes these latest trials could offer a solution to many of these issues.

However, BT hopes these latest trials could offer a solution.

By integrating fibre broadband kit into a building basement or comms room, the need for street furniture, public civil engineering works and road closures will be drastically reduced - and so will the time it takes for an installation to be carried out.

On the look-out

Joe Garner, chief executive of Openreach said: “We’re constantly exploring new ways to deliver fibre broadband to residential customers into city-centres, so we are excited to announce the launch of this trial.”

He added:“City-centre locations present unique challenges when it comes to upgrading consumer broadband. For example, there is less room for us to install a fibre cabinet on the pavement, and it is often harder to get permission to close roads to do the work. We also need to secure permission from multiple landlords to run new cables across their land and properties.”

Concluded Joe Garner: “That’s why we are being innovative with new technology solutions like this one. We are optimistic that this new solution will prove that fibre broadband can be installed into building basements quickly, smoothly and economically. It could also have the added benefit of being less disruptive for our customers and the general public."