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Southwark brings full-fibre broadband to council estates

London’s Southwark Council has enlisted Hyperoptic to deliver FTTP broadband services across its housing portfolio

Public housing tenants and right-to-buy homeowners across the London borough of Southwark will soon be able to access ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband through a new partnership signed with network builder and internet service provider (ISP) Hyperoptic.

Southwark Council’s portfolio currently comprises more than 53,000 residential homes and 1,000 commercial properties, but as a result of servicing these buildings, the council anticipates that Hyperoptic’s network will pass an additional 46,000 homes in the borough through a 40km extension to its existing infrastructure in the area. Hyperoptic already passes 22,000 homes in Southwark, so on completion, this means it should be able to hit 80% of properties in the borough.

“Southwark Council has shown how we can find innovative new ideas and partnerships to help deliver a better broadband service to our residents,” said Fiona Colley, Southwark Council cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance.

“This new agreement with Hyperoptic will complement other projects we have undertaken around the borough and means we can get improved broadband into more of our council estates, increasing the choice for our tenants and making it easier for Hyperoptic to then extend its service to private properties nearby.

“In addition, Hyperoptic has committed to providing every council-owned TRA [tenants and residents association] hall and community centre with free gigabit capable broadband connections and as we work towards getting everyone in the borough online, it is also fantastic to hear that Hyperoptic will be offering digital inclusion training to staff and residents on our estates, so everyone can gain the knowledge and confidence to make the most of the new services being offered.”

The first properties on the Osprey Estate in Rotherhithe will be connected by the end of May, and the rest of the council’s buildings are set to be covered over the next 12 months, said Hyperoptic, which claims to cover one in seven homes in central London today, and hopes to reach one in five by March 2019 at current build rates.

Besides bringing ultrafast broadband to comparatively less well-off socio-economic groups, it said Southwark was “catalysing tomorrow’s digital connectivity, which will be the foundation for 5G, autonomous vehicles, smart city infrastructure, e-health, and more”.

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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 roll-outs. Southwark has chosen not only to help, but also to champion a digital future for its residents.

“Thanks to the hard work of Southwark Council and our team, we can now substantially invest in the area and quickly roll out our infrastructure across the whole borough. Unfettered internet access has the power to revolutionise lives – we sincerely hope that other councils will follow Southwark’s example and empower us to deliver gigabit enabled fibre to more residents and businesses.”

While coverage of broadband performance issues often focuses on rural areas that have not been commercially addressed by national network owner Openreach with even a basic fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service, many parts of London, including Southwark, remain poorly served as well.

Last year, the borough was named by consumer advocacy organisation Which? as one of the 20 worst places in the country for broadband speeds, with a median average download speed of 10.4Mbps.

Constituency-level government data shows the the mean average speed in Bermondsey and Old Southwark is 31.4Mbps, in Camberwell and Peckham 39.6Mbps, and in Dulwich and West Norwood 48Mbps – suggesting that the wealthier suburban parts of the borough receive a better service.

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