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Property developers build broadband 'black hole' in the heart of London

Wednesday, February 17th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

Residents of a new London apartment block are stuck without broadband or landline connections despite living just minutes from the O2 Arena.

The building, at 44 Bessemer Place in Greenwich, was completed last year but resident Deon Du Preez has been without any sort of connection since he moved in in September.

He has tried several different providers but has been unable to get a landline or broadband service, despite there being phone sockets and what appears to be a BT Openreach modem in his flat.

Mr Du Preez has had to spend months relying on tethering his laptop to his mobile phone, which he said was “slow, but better than nothing”.

“I have gone through every provider and get the same response from all and they all seem to blame BT Openreach," he told Cable.co.uk.

“The postcode is correct and a lot of the sites list the address but as soon as you select the address the search comes back with either invalid post code or there are no packages or services available.

“It’s a huge complex in Greenwich that’s going up. My building is surrounded by other buildings and I can walk 20 metres from my door and I pick up wi-fi signals from nearly every provider but my building seems to be in some kind of black hole.”

“I’m literally five minutes from The Dome (now the O2 arena), it’s not like I’m in the middle of the countryside."

'Not available'

Mr Du Preez, 48, contacted Cable.co.uk after seeing our coverage of the problems people across the country are having getting broadband connections in new developments.

He said when he first moved into the building, he underwent the home move process with his supplier TalkTalk.

But after more than six weeks, the company told him it couldn’t provide him with a service and would have to cancel his contract.

“They always gave different reasons but one was that Openreach hadn’t connected the building.”

When he spoke to BT, Mr Du Preez said he asked for written assurance they could guarantee a service to him before he signed up for a contract.

He said he never heard back, so took a contract out with EE.

However, after his planned connection date was pushed back several times, EE told him it too was unable to provide a service.

Since then, he has tried again to get a connection through BT but when he completes a postcode checker on the company’s website and finds his address, he then receives an error message saying: “We're sorry, one or more of our broadband products are not available to you. Please call us on 0800 100 400.”

The broadband 'black hole' just five minutes from the O2

Deon Du Preez is unable to get a landline or broadband connection at his flat in Greenwich, despite there being what appears to be a BT Openreach modem inside the property.

Mr Du Preez also tried to order over the phone, but after speaking to a customer representative from BT, later received a text message that said: "Unfortunately we are unable to provide service at the moment, we will highlight your address details to Openreach and when they inform us we can provide service to your address we will be back in touch".

He said he complained to London & Quadrant, the house association that manages the building, and was told that BT and a company called Fibre Options are the only providers that can serve the building.

Wired up?

According to Mr Du Preez, he isn't the only person in the building who has been struggling to get connected.

He said he was told by a fellow resident that she had had similar problems and had ended up signing up with Fibre Options, at a higher price than BT would cost.

Mr Du Preez, who is unable to work, said he has BT Openreach equipment inside his flat that "flashes green but that is about it".

While it appears that the building has not yet been connected to Openreach's network, he said he had bumped into an Openreach engineer who was working near his flat, who told him the building had already been "wired up".

"Yet trying to get a service is near impossible. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would have an issue with the broadband.

“Ten metres away turn you on the wi-fi and you can pick up all the signals. They are all here in the area but not in my building.”

Cable.co.uk has approached London & Quadrant and BT for comment. A BT spokeswoman said Openreach is currently investigating.

UPDATE: An Openreach spokesperson said: “We’re really sorry for the delay in getting Mr Du Preez connected. Unfortunately we experienced various technical and engineering issues whilst installing fibre directly to his home.

“We’re pleased to say that he can now order a fibre broadband service with ultrafast speeds of up to 330Mbps from those providers who offer our fibre-to-the-premises product.

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