Rollout of super-fast broadband to City businesses being slowed by permission issues

Josh Mines
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City of London's Catherine McGuinness opens the first super-fast broadband connection in the city of Londom (Source: City of London Corporation)

The rollout of super-fast broadband to businesses in the City of London is being delayed, as BT Openreach expressed concern over getting permission from landlords to carry out crucial infrastructure work.

It follows the UK's first Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) connection being made yesterday in the City of London.

FTTP connects fibre optic cables directly from a local exchange to a home or business premise, giving far more reliable broadband.

But Openreach said that the rollout of the technology was being hindered as it was unable to contact landlords who owned office buildings, as many live abroad.

"The one obstacle we face is with the owners of big buildings in city of London," chief exec of Openreach Clive Selley told City A.M.

"It’s tough in London to work out who owns buildings and contact them, it’s quite unique as its an international city and buildings are owned by people across the planet.

"I worry that some connections could take years if the building owners don’t come forward."

Though the outside infrastructure can be installed, Openreach needs permission from the owner of the building to go in and place the technology inside.

This requires an effort to engage with 10,000 premises across London's centre, and has led to Openreach workers having to physically track down landlords to try and gain permission for the important work.

Catherine McGuinness, chairman of the City of London Corporation Policy and Resources Committee added that she had previously raised concern at the rate the project was moving forward, but added that the authoritty had benefited from a collaborative approach with Openreach.

"Highly innovative SMEs in the city need this sort of facility," she said. "They need to be able to connect, it’s how we do business these days."

To tackle the issue, Selley suggested a number of measures.

"Every building should display owner details, their should be a central registry available to us and for new buildings it should be a requirement that us or another infrastructure provider is invited in to fibre the building when it's built."