A Labour MP has blasted BT for letting small and medium businesses in Tech City wither on a superslow broadband vine.
After receiving a petition signed by 38 businesses based in her constituency, Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, took BT to task.
Thornberry said: “Tech City is home to a large number of new and innovative businesses – film companies, public relations companies, property companies and pollsters – which all need fast and reliable internet access and download and upload speeds.
“We might assume that BT is able to provide that infrastructure, and that it and other providers can offer high-speed connections to all those companies, but they are not doing so.”
Thornberry highlighted the case of one film production company Proudfoot, which has resorted to couriering hard drives on bikes instead of using an unfit for purpose broadband connection to send video files to client.
Despite being in close proximity to a street cabinet, Proudfoot can’t be connected to an FTTC (Fibre to the Cabniet)-based service.
BT has denied that it’s poorly serving the east London tech hub, saying that start ups can apply for discounted business-grade leased lines.
A BT spokesperson said: “Ultrafast high-capacity broadband services are available throughout the whole of Tech City and government grants are available to businesses which want them.”
Why are Tech City companies not making use of Connected Vouchers?
Super Connected Cities can give start-ups and small to medium businesses up to £3,000 off the cost of getting next-gen broadband installed. As well as BT, ISPs like Virgin Media Business, Hyperoptic, TalkTalk Business and many others are offering business-grade services to small to medium companies.
This isn’t the first time that a Labour MP has voiced concerns about Tech City – an initiative laughed by this government – and its apparent superfast broadband drought. Why are so many Tech City companies ignoring the voucher scheme?
The government is clearly desperate for companies to sign up. Culture secretary Sajid Javid urged firms to sign up for vouchers last September, before extending the deadline for applications to March 2016. For some reason, Tech City companies – or at least 38 of them – don’t appear to be biting.
Proudfoot, which has been inundated with offers from ISPs since the news broke, was unable to comment at the time of writing.