Ultra-fast pure fibre broadband from BT is a lot rarer than the half-fat superfast kind but 800 Birmingham businesses can now connect.
FTTP (fibre to the premises) connections, providing download speeds of up to 300Mbps, are now available at two landmark buildings in the UK’s second city: The Custard Factory and The Big Peg.
BT originally planned to connect 2.5 million UK premises to FTTP, but has since put this target on ice, making the Birmingham upgrades far more valuable.
Lucan Gray, of The Custard Factory and The Big Peg said: “The Openreach infrastructure offers superfast connection speeds and a choice of provider, and will enable the businesses here to get the best possible speeds at the best possible price.
“Our resident businesses still have to pay connection fees and line rentals, but the cost of installing the core infrastructure, which would normally fall on them, has been borne by Openreach.”
The Big Peg is a landmark building for entrepreneurs and growing companies in the heart of the city’s resurgent Jewellery Quarter and went live in January.
It was March before connections went live at The Custard Factory in Digbeth, home to creative and digital businesses as well as independent retail firms and cultural organisations.
The two sites are home to 800 small and medium-sized businesses, who will also be able to access uploads of up to 30Mbps if they sign up for the new services.
Martin Corbett, BT Openreach business development director, said: “We wanted to get straight on with the nuts and bolts so we could launch as soon as possible in The Custard Factory and The Big Peg.
“We collaborated with Lucan and his team on the design of the core infrastructure going around the buildings. We had to make some readjustments on network entry points to both properties, but that wasn’t a major problem.”
The older Custard Factory complex of buildings presented BT’s engineers with some challenges, but the modern environment of The Big Peg gave them plenty of room to route cables and install equipment.
Corbett didn’t reveal how many businesses have signed up for the new fibre broadband, but claims that a similar FTTP upgrade at a Wolverhampton business park was responsible for 98 per cent occupancy and more than 20 tenants-in-waiting.
Birmingham’s original £10m scheme to bring super-fast broadband to much of the city with BT was cancelled last year after a legal challenge from Virgin Media, which led to the axing of the national Super-Connected Cities programme in favour of Urban Broadband Fund vouchers.