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BT blasted for superfast famine by City of London policy boss

A City of London policy chairman has hit out at BT over the capitals’ superfast famine. 

Mark Boleat, chairman of the policy and resources committee at the local authority is blaming BT for hobbling London’s Square Mile with insufficient broadband connections, which is turn is hurting London’s businesses. 

The chairman argued that while large businesses can access expensive business-grade leased lines, BT is hurting 13,000 SMEs (small-medium enterprises) in the area by not rolling out FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises).  

London's Gherkin - 30 St Mary Axe - has now been put on the market. Is broadband availability to blame?
London’s Gherkin – 30 St Mary Axe – has now been put on the market. Is broadband availability to blame?

BT argued that the fibre-based services available from its Openreach network are only viable for the smallest of businesses, arguing that its leased line services are best suited for medium and larger corporations. 

A BT spokesperson said: “As the Corporation of London say themselves, businesses throughout the Square Mile can access superfast services on dedicated lines specifically designed for companies. 

“These are normally the most appropriate services for businesses, given their demands are typically very different from consumers. We are in talks with the Corporation of London about how to increase availability of lower-priced fibre broadband – which is primarily aimed at consumers, home workers and the very smallest SMEs [small-medium enterprises].” 

In a column for City AM, Boleat also criticised the Government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) programme for pushing its original 2015 target date back by two years. 

BDUK originally aimed to roll out superfast broadband – services providing download speeds of at least 25Mbps – to 90 per cent of homes and businesses across the UK. Those in the remaining ten per cent would get a basic 2Mbps service by 2015. 

Last year, the Government did push the target date back to 2017, but also widened the superfast coverage area to 95 per cent. 

Boleat’s comments echo those of Labour MP Meg Hillier, who recently labelled east London’s Tech City’s broadband blackspots ‘a national disgrace’. 

BT has invested £2.5 billion of its own money into a commercial project that connects two thirds of the UK’s homes and firms to FTTC or FTTP. It’s also won every BDUK contract so far which sees it connecting suburban and rural parts of the UK. 

While these projects will eventually see 95 per cent of premises able to get superfast services, in the meantime homes and businesses in the blackspots are being forced to dig deep in their pockets. 

London businesses are getting some help from the Super Connected Cities scheme, which lets companies claim up to £3,000 off of broadband installation costs. BT is one of the many ISPs including Hyperoptic and Virgin Media Business taking part in the London wing of Super Connected Cities. 

The Government has invested £150m into Super Connected Cities, which aims to see business connected to speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2015 in 22 UK cities around the UK. 

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