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BT to expand fibre broadband network across London boroughs

Tuesday, September 15th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

BT has announced plans to expand its fibre broadband network across a number of London boroughs.

A citywide programme that will increase fibre coverage in every London borough will push overall fibre availability across the capital, taking all networks into account, from around 90% to 95% of premises.

The latest announcements include an extra 20,000 homes in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, taking BT Openreach’s total fibre coverage in the borough to nearly 80,000 premises.

The plans also include expansion of the high-speed fibre network in the London Borough of Croydon, where it will be available to an additional 9,368 local homes and businesses in the next two years, taking total coverage to more than 140,000 premises.

In Barking and Dagenham, more than 2,000 homes and businesses will benefit from new investment, taking coverage to more than 72,000 premises.

And more than 19,000 homes and businesses in Bexley will be able to get fibre, taking the total in the borough to more than 98,000.

According to BT, the Openreach fibre network is already the largest in London, covering nearly 3m homes and businesses.

The company is spending more than £3bn on Openreach’s deployment of fibre across the UK, and the work in London is part of an extra £50m earmarked last year by the company for UK cities.

Openreach CEO Joe Garner said: “Openreach engineers have been working flat out to bring fibre to more than 23m 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.”

'Vote of confidence'

BT’s new investment will focus on three areas. They include upgrading city cabinets that weren’t part of the original commercial plans due to technical challenges or local planning restrictions.

It will also roll out fibre to the remote node (FTTRN), which involves fibre cable being taken to smaller remote cabinets that can be positioned on telegraph poles or inside manholes that are closer to homes.

The work will also involve rolling out fibre cabinets that serve ‘multi-dwelling units’ such as apartment blocks.

BT said its plans also include continuing to ensure that the new fibre network is available on an ‘equivalent’ basis to all internet service providers that use the Openreach network.

Council leaders in the London boroughs welcomed the news. Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: “Kensington and Chelsea is a beautiful Victorian borough but we still need 21st century infrastructure.

“This further investment in fibre broadband in Kensington and Chelsea is therefore very welcome.

“Fast broadband is increasingly vital, for work, leisure and business.

“I’m sure our residents and businesses in the additional areas where fibre broadband is now being delivered will be very pleased with this announcement.”

Croydon Council leader Cllr Tony Newman said fast connectivity is increasingly important to many in the borough, especially the Croydon Tech City community, and said the announcement would help support the council’s plans for the growth of the borough.

Councillor Teresa O'Neill, leader of the London Borough of Bexley, added: “I’m delighted to see that BT Group is making a further investment in fibre broadband within Bexley.

“This is a substantial investment and a real vote of confidence in the borough.”

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