BT takes on Tech City broadband & BDUK complaints

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Openreach CEO Joe Garner has addressed recent complaints regarding BDUK and broadband in London's Tech City following the release of their first quarter results, calling for start-ups to invest more if they want higher internet speeds.

Results for the first quarter reported that BT fibre is now offered to more than 20 million premises across the UK, with 341,000 added. However, of this 20 million that are eligible, only 3 million have actually signed up.

Take up of fibre averages at 15 per cent across the UK, yet Garner admitted that adoption in Tech City ranges from between 12 and 3 per cent.

"What we're not seeing is a mass of people queuing up for [fibre]. What we are seeing is some very clear requests from some businesses."

Commenting on recent complaints of bad connectivity in the capital's Old Street area, known as Tech City, Garner maintained that fast broadband is available to small businesses and start-ups, as long as they're willing to pay for it.

"There is full availability of superfast internet access to businesses," he said. "This is not primarily an issue of availability this is primarily on issue of price. And I do well understand that, if you are a start-up business, you would much rather pay 25 a month than 250 a month.

"But if you are a start-up, isn't your internet access worth a couple of hundred pounds a month?"

To address the problems, BT is planning to trial fibre-to-the-remote-node' (FTTRn), which could potentially boost broadband speeds for SMBs in the area as well as elsewhere in the UK without installing a whole new infrastructure.

Openreach and Tech City are working together to determine which businesses are most in need, says Garner.

The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme has also been the subject of much criticism, with details of the project still unavailable to consumers despite promises to deliver super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of the UK population by 2015.

"There's still a lot of discussion going on between government and local authorities around [the next phase]," Garner commented.

In response to ongoing complaints that, as BT is now the sole bidder for BDUK deals, the process is non-competitive, he said: "Things are moving on the BT level. I would really, really welcome competition in terms of the bid process. We're actively engaged and keen to do whatever we can to support the government's objectives."

Revenue for the company's IT services dropped by 2 per cent this quarter, which has been attributed to declining hardware sales.

SME and corporate voice revenue fell by 4 per cent, and data and networking revenue was flat due to declining network revenue offsetting the growth in fibre broadband sales.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

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