July Update

BT working with Southwark Council to trial new fibre broadband technology in Rotherhithe
BT have finally started a trial of FTTRN (fibre to the remote node), an alternative to installing new cabinets. This was first announced by BT back in October 2014. This trial allows 16 flats in Gwent Court, Rotherhithe Street to get up to 80Mbps broadband. Southwark Council, Val Shawcross (GLA) and BT are quite excited by this news (as we guess so are the 16 residents). But after more than 2 years of meetings between Southwark Council, the GLA and BT, we are a little underwhelmed by this news.

Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next Generation Access at BT Group, said: “This trial demonstrates our commitment to keep pushing the boundaries and investing in our open network. Areas like Rotherhithe present us with a unique technological and physical challenge, but this trial is a precursor to further announcements we’ll be making in the coming months as we seek to meet that challenge. We’re pleased to be working closely with Southwark Council on this project and we look forward to seeing how the trial progresses.”

We do hope that BT is sincere. BT has been trialling FTTRN for over a year now in many areas, we hope that this trial is to just iron out a few issues before a wider roll-out is announced. It’s worth noting that BT has already reported back to the Mayor’s infrastructure committee late last year, stating that areas like Rotherhithe, would still need some public funding to be fully upgraded and even then this would not cover all properties.

Virgin Media Expansion
Many people have updated us with their responses from filling out the Virgin Media ‘Cable My Street’ form. For some there was good news, they are to be included in the Phase One roll-out. For others the news was not so positive with Virgin Media stating their address was either not included in Phase One or there was not enough demand in their area yet to be considered at all.

Virgin Media are still being tight-lipped about the exact areas of the Phase One roll-out but it looks like they are only expanding to residences in the immediate areas around their current infrastructure. Old Rotherhithe and the first part of Rotherhithe Street had the majority of positive emails from Virgin Media.

Our contact with Virgin Media has informed us that they have not had any meetings with Southwark Council. This is a shame as pressure from Southwark could have influenced their planning.

We would highly recommend registering your interest with Virgin Media as it does appear to make a difference:

Virgin Media Cable My Street

Southwark Broadband Report
Southwark Council are still refusing to publish the broadband report they commissioned from Atkins in September 2014. We have had to resort to going to the Information Commissioner to force Southwark to publish this document (as they had initially promised to do so). While the report will not tell us what plan Southwark has for Rotherhithe (if any) it may help us to understand the Council’s position.

Mayor of London Connectivity Map
The map allows residents and businesses to view the state of connectivity in their area, and then register interest for faster broadband services. The aim is to show demand for better services from residents and businesses which service providers can then see.

Thanks to the many of you who responded last month and filled in their details. While we are not sure how effective it’s going to be (indeed it’s been offline most of Friday) it clearly shows how much Rotherhithe residents want better broadband.

Connectivity Map

Hyperoptic & Relish
Hyperoptic are still very active in Rotherhithe, with many new blocks coming online, including boats at South Dock marina.
No news from Relish. They carried out some site-surveys last year but there has been little progress.
Community Broadband Solution
We are currently re-evaluating our proposal for a community broadband solution. We still believe this is a great idea and the only solution that would provide affordable high speed broadband for anyone in Rotherhithe (with the benefits of the profits going back to the community). There have been some major hurdles over the last few months, not least the time it has been taking the volunteers in the planning group. We will provide an update in August.
Rotherhithe Broadband Group
joinin@energise16.co.uk