London borough signs up with two rival gigabit fibre providers
21 March 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
One of London’s biggest boroughs has signed a pair of deals to bring gigabit-speed fibre to the homes of most of its 290,000 residents.
Southwark, whose territory runs south from the River Thames, is working with Hyperoptic and Community Fibre in plans that will see 53,000 homes and nearly 1,000 commercial properties connected to fibre.
As a result of servicing these buildings, Hyperoptic’s network will also pass an additional 46,000 homes and businesses in the borough.
There appears to be extensive duplication in the separate agreements, both announced on the same day. Community Fibre said its deal would enable connectivity to over 53,000 properties owned by Southwark council.
Community Fibre’s marketing manager Sam Soares confirmed: “There is no connection [between the deals]. We actually have a wayleave agreement with Southwark council for 54,000 homes.”
Councillor Fiona Colley, the council’s cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance, said: “These new agreements will complement other projects we have undertaken around the borough and mean we can get improved broadband into more of our council estates, increasing the choice for our tenants and making it easier for suppliers to then extend their service to private properties nearby.”
Hyperoptic and Community Fibre will compete with BT and Virgin Media, both of which offer broadband services in the area, which includes landmarks such as Tower Bridge, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe as well as major residential areas such as Elephant & Castle and Peckham.
Residents of some parts of Southwark will have even more choice for broadband. Last November the council signed rooftop agreements with fixed wireless company Relish – owned by CK Hutchison’s Three UK – to add points of presence on 21 residential blocks. These have now been installed with 17 sites already live, with the remaining four due to go live by the end of March, said Southwark.
As part of the fibre installation process, Hyperoptic will install over 40km of cable in Southwark, on top of the 22km it has installed to date. This means that Hyperoptic’s full fibre network will pass over 80% of premises in Southwark, from the current 20% it covers presently.
Hyperoptic CEO Dana Tobak said: “The role of local government in enabling the future of a full fibre Britain cannot be understated. Wayleaves are the number one hindrance to urban rollouts. Southwark has chosen not only to help, but also to champion a digital future for its residents.”
The company aims to make its service available to over two million UK homes by 2022 and five million by 2025.
For Community Fibre it is the second such deal this year. In January it signed a master wayleave agreement with the west London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The company says it now has access to 150,000 homes throughout London with the aim of having 500,000 properties connected by 2022.
Jeremy Chelot, CEO at Community Fibre, said: “Southwark council’s commitment has made it easy for Community Fibre to bring this expansion to reality, showcasing how an innovative approach from a local authority can help us to provide the best connectivity to meet residents’ needs.”
Hyperoptic charges residential customers £20 a month for fibre and phone at speeds up to 30Mbps, up to £49 a month for 1Gbps. Community Fibre charges £20 a month for 20Mbps and £50 for 1Gbps.
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