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Pioneering partnership brings superfast broadband to Brewhouse Yard, Clerkenwell

Press Release   •   May 10, 2016 14:40 BST

First apartment block to co-fund Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology in a basement

A pioneering project – the first of its kind in the UK – has brought together developers, property agents and BT’s local network division, Openreach, to make superfast broadband available to hundreds of residents in Clerkenwell’s Brewhouse Yard, the site of the former Cannon Brewery.

Thanks to funding from Brewhouse Yard directors, Currells property management and Openreach, a fibre broadband cabinet has been installed into the basement at the development, meaning over 200 residents can now order high speed services which are 20 times faster than before from a provider of their choice.

This new way of delivering fibre broadband technology could solve an issue posed in some inner city ‘not spots’ where crowded pavements leave little room for Openreach fibre street cabinets to be installed. Connecting a power supply, closing and digging up roads, and getting permission to access private land can all make standard installations an economic and engineering challenge in certain urban areas – especially for buildings served by “exchange only” lines (where no traditional street cabinet exists).

Elizabeth Hurry, partner at Currell, the managing agent at Brewhouse Yard, said: “Cooperating with both Brewhouse Yard residents and directors, as well as directly with Openreach, has allowed a time consuming and costly process to be undertaken relatively quickly, with the end result of greatly improving facilities for residents. Superfast broadband is becoming a ‘must have’ item in new developments across London, so this installation will make Brewhouse Yard a hugely appealing place to live for house hunters in the local area.”

Kim Mears, Managing Director of Infrastructure Delivery at Openreach, said: “The vast majority of the capital already has access to fibre broadband – and of course any business in London can order a dedicated, ultrafast service - but this is a really effective and novel way of getting fibre broadband to pockets of the city where the engineering, logistics and economics are more challenging.

“By working in partnership with landlords and agents like this, we can short-cut months of planning and disruption involved in closing and digging up roads. We also avoid the need to install our roadside cabinets on precious street space, so we’re piloting this approach and are working on similar projects across London to exploit those benefits and get fibre to even more Londoners.”

Openreach recently announced it will make fibre available at a further 360,000 homes and businesses in London in the next two years.

The rollout will take availability of fibre optic services for London homes and small businesses** beyond the current 94% coverage***.


Notes to editors

*The vast majority of UK homes are connected to BT’s network via a green roadside cabinet which in turn links to a local telephone exchange. However, a small proportion of buildings are served directly from the local exchange – so called “exchange only” lines. EO lines commonly cater for download speeds of up to around 20mbps (more than enough speed to stream HD movies and connect to social networks or email applications simultaneously), but they are more challenging to upgrade to superfast speeds of 24 Mbps+.

** Every business property in London can already access “Ethernet” – ultrafast high-capacity broadband over tailor-made lines. Today’s announcement concerns fibre optic connections for households and smaller businesses.

***The 94% estimate is sourced from ThinkBroadband, using Ofcom and other information and pertains to overall coverage across both Openreach and rival networks.

BT cannot give a precise estimate of how far beyond 95% coverage will now go as this depends on expansion by competitor networks and potential overlap between their networks and that of Openreach.