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Grosvenor signs broadband investment deal for London’s West End

Landowner and property developer has signed a co-investment partnership with Openreach to address poor broadband connectivity standards in parts of the capital

Landowner and property developer Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has signed a major co-investment partnership with national network owner Openreach – the first such deal in the UK – to upgrade broadband connectivity services across its estate in central London.

With a history dating back to the 17th century and the development of London’s West End as the city expanded away from its historic core, Grosvenor’s London estate spans Belgravia and Mayfair and comprises 130 residential and business sites.

However, in common with many other parts of central London, despite containing some of the UK’s most expensive properties, both areas suffer from extremely poor broadband infrastructure coverage, and are ranked in the bottom 5% worst performing in the country.

To address this, Grosvenor has begun a £2m digital investment programme to enhance broadband, mobile and Wi-Fi networks across its London estate.

“We have a 20-year vision that our London estate, at the heart of the West End, works harder for its communities and all Londoners by adapting – with better streets, greener spaces and more active and enterprising places that appeal to the many,” said Will Bax, executive director for the London estate at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland.

“This digital upgrade, the first of its kind in a landmark deal, confirms our commitment to the long-term vision we have for this great London estate. It epitomises our call for the partnerships and collaboration we need to secure the future of these districts at the heart of a thriving, global city.”

The upgrade is set to give 600 homes and businesses in the area access to gigabit download speeds through fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) delivery technology, while hundreds more will benefit to a lesser extent from additional enhancements to existing Openreach street cabinets, providing download speeds of around 80Mbps over fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) delivery technology.

Read more about broadband roll-out

Openreach said the addition of more high-speed broadband infrastructure to the area would grow the West End’s digital resilience and bring down barriers for local businesses. Grosvenor, meanwhile, said it wanted to help its business tenants adopt more connected models, and be more competitive on a global stage.

Kim Mears, Openreach managing director for infrastructure delivery, said: “We want to build a much larger full fibre network across the UK, and with the right conditions we believe we could make FTTP available to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s. But the engineering, commercial and operational challenges are significant.

“There is no doubt that greater collaboration will help us to overcome these challenges, so we are working closely with landowners, developers, communications providers and government to achieve that. Co-investment models like this one are part of the answer, and we are keen to replicate this with other landowners and developers throughout the UK.”

The upgrade – due to complete in 2018 – is running at the same time as a local council-run connection voucher scheme for businesses in the City of Westminster, which includes most of Belgravia and all of Mayfair.

Westminster Council launched its programme this summer after securing funding of £2.8m – including £1.4m from the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund – to offer £2,000 grants for businesses looking to upgrade to ultrafast broadband connections.

About 47,000 businesses have made their home in Westminster, representing around 10% of all businesses in London. ................................................................................................................................ .............................................................................

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

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