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The million-pound London riverside apartments with 'useless' broadband

Thursday, June 4th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

An upmarket London development is struggling with “useless” internet speeds and falling behind many rural areas despite being in the capital, residents have claimed.

Media lawyer Geraint Lloyd-Taylor, who lives in the Royal Arsenal Riverside development in Woolwich, south-east London, said broadband speeds have gradually slowed down and are virtually unusable sometimes.

But despite property developer Berkeley trumpeting fibre as an integral part of its residential developments in London, Mr Lloyd-Taylor said he and other residents have no idea when their broadband will be upgraded to fibre.

"In a nutshell, we moved in four years ago and it didn’t have fibre, but it had regular broadband," he said.

"We were one of the first people to move into the place, and when we signed up for broadband it was quite quick – about 18-20Mbps.

"But as the building filled up it gradually slowed and gradually slowed."

Mr Lloyd-Taylor said he and other residents are hoping that fibre will be installed, but they have found it difficult to get information from developers Berkeley and property management company Rendall & Rittner.

"A lot of us have Sky so we are downloading things from the boxes, but we have Netflix and Amazon TV and stuff, the demand is climbing sharply," he said.

"At the weekend we have got 3-4Mbps, which means you can’t download shows, you can’t really browse the internet sometimes.

"It’s got to the point where the internet is pretty much useless at times."

'Falling behind'

People also have to think twice about working from home, because of unreliable internet speeds, he said.

Royal Arsenal Riverside is described on Berkeley’s website as "one of South East London's most exciting riverside addresses".

But Mr Lloyd-Taylor said while some villages in rural areas are celebrating superfast broadband speeds, he and other residents are "completely falling behind in a brand new development".

Fellow resident John Smith, who has lived on the development for two years, said despite being told fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband was "coming soon", nothing has happened yet.

He said while he gets speeds of around 14Mbps, his job managing his company’s IT across Europe and Asia means he needs reliable and high speed internet.

The development needs a fibre to the premises (FTTP) solution to cater for the young professionals it is marketed at, he said.

He said he is "seriously looking at moving back to the Yorkshire Dales" where he would be able to get 1Gbps broadband later this year through a local internet provider.

"So come on, that is rural Yorkshire vs the heart of London," he added.

Residents have started a petition on website Change.org calling for Rendall & Rittner to allow Hyperoptic to install fibre at the development, in addition to the imminent BT Openreach fibre installation.

They believe it will help futureproof their broadband needs and help deliver better speeds quicker.

'Strong commitment'

A spokesperson for Berkeley Homes said: “Berkeley recognises that superfast fibre optic broadband services are an important requirement for many of our customers in their new homes.

"We have therefore made a strong commitment, through 'Our Vision', to enable fibre optic broadband services in all of the new homes we build.

"We believe that we are the only developer to have made this commitment, and are proud to be leading the housebuilding industry in this area."

The spokesperson said that at Royal Arsenal, it is delivering the commitment in all of the new homes being built.

But some of the sites, which are 10-15 years old and contain refurbished listed buildings, were built before the advent of fibre broadband services and need "a substantial upgrade" to enable the services to be implemented retrospectively, the spokesperson said.

"We have been working in conjunction with the appointed managing agents, Rendall & Rittner, and BT Openreach, to deliver the upgrade," the spokesperson added.

"A proposal from BT Openreach has now been approved by the various residents’ committees on the development and BT Openreach is conducting further surveys to allow them to begin the upgrade at earliest possible date.

“As soon as we receive confirmation for works to start, we will communicate this message to our residents, who we appreciate, have been very patient whist the preliminary stages have been underway."

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