BT takes broadband to NEW PLACES. That's right: CITIES

Will ‘cabinets in the basement’ be the next big thing?

Decaying red telephone boxes

BT is trumpeting a new test which will see it install broadband in some really hard-to-reach locations: the middle of cities. Well, provided it can get into the building in the first place.

It seems there are some places where it’s impossible to put a cabinet in the street, and that means slow broadband for domestic and small business users.

While the press release says “BT to pilot new technology in City of London”, it’s actually old technology. This is putting the cabinet that would have gone in the street into the basements of buildings. Except it’s not a cabinet but a rack.

It’s less innovation and more negotiation, and what makes it worth noting is that BT is prepared to square things with landlords for a rack which lets other ISPs use the installation in the same way as they would if it were in the street.

Within the building it’s plain old copper, but then this is precisely the kind of application which is being targeted at G.fast.

The trial is taking place in two City of London buildings from next month: 225 homes in the Middlesex Street Estate and around 50 SMEs based at 65 London Wall will have access to download speeds of up to 80Mbps from more than 130 different service providers for the first time.

Graham Bell, chief information officer of the City of London Corporation, said: “We hope the trials will lead to further expansion of fibre broadband across the Square Mile for residents and SMEs, complementing the Ethernet infrastructure already available to larger firms.”

Joe Garner, CEO of Openreach, said:

“City centre locations present unique challenges when it comes to upgrading consumer broadband. For example, there is less room for us to install a fibre cabinet on the pavement, and it is often harder to get permission to close roads to do the work. We also need to secure permission from multiple landlords to run new cables across their land and properties."

You would rather hope that having got fibre into the building, there might be an option to run it all the way to the premises. ®

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