Slow lane for Superfast Broadband rollout in (East) Marylebone
It's been at least four years since a chorus of complaints was heard across Marylebone regarding almost unworkable broadband speeds in our area. Back then many locals felt they had been left behind without any viable alternative to BT/Openreach’s slow internet service. So what has happened since?
Westminster robustly encouraged alternative providers, including G. Network and HyperOptic, to roll out their fibre networks across the neighbourhood. These new fibre networks are coming but have yet to fully deploy into Marylebone and Fitzrovia. Openreach -- formerly part of BT -- added fibre to many of its street cabinets, but lately seems to have stopped its upgrades around south-eastern Marylebone. Openreach’s role in our neighbourhood is crucial as it controls the legacy telephone lines into almost all premises here. Improvements to its network underpin the health of competition and innovation in the centre of the city. The map below shows the state of Superfast Broadband deployment throughout our area: it is clear that East Marylebone and Fitzrovia (marked in darker blues) are lagging behind the surrounding areas. It is ironic that the zones of slowest access are mostly fed from the exchange at the BT Tower, seemingly an icon for modern communications at the centre of our capital city. (Image: Openreach Cabinet P63 (not upgraded) with view of BT Tower lying behind)
Superfast Broadband Provision 2018 - Darker blues show limited or lack of provision (click map for detail)
As an example of how badly our area is serviced, it recently took me 4 hours to upload High Definition video to BBCNews – I ended up having to walk it across in person to Broadcasting House. We really should not experience this in a world-class metropolitan area. Our neighbourhood’s future is reliant on the growth of its service, media and creative-industries. However, the necessary infrastructure is still not available throughout our neighbourhood despite many residents and small businesses being located here. Furthermore, a recent exchange database search shows that upgrades to the Howland St (BT Tower) Exchange and its cabinets have slowed to a standstill. Only one more cabinet upgrade is planned here by 2019: is Openreach not interested in this area?
Surely this not an acceptable state of affairs and further intervention is required to improve internet provision in these central areas. All of Marylebone should equally benefit from improvements promised all those years ago. And unfortunately, Openreach might not be keen enough to be answer the call to complete their work.