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Gigabit fibre service goes live in London

Hyperoptic has turned on 1Gbps connectivity for residents of a Wandsworth residential development, in an installation that cost around £130 per flat
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Hyperoptic has turned on gigabit-per-second broadband services at a residential property in south London.

Set live on Wednesday at Prices Court in Battersea, the top-tier service is the fastest available to residential customers in the UK. It costs £50 per month, although lower speeds are also on offer at cheaper prices through the same ISP.

In a Hyperoptic statement, Prices Court director Zair Berry said the residents of the 133-flat riverside development wanted to "future-proof" their properties, and no one else offered 1Gbps. Hyperoptic chairman Boris Ivanovic said the installation had been "a perfect start" for his company.

Hyperoptic's founders, Ivanovic and managing director Dana Tobak, were also behind the Be Broadband ISP that O2 bought in 2006 to get into the home broadband market. Ivanovic and Tobak announced their intention to start a new symmetrical fibre access provider in May, and opened up for registration in September.

Communal installation

Installation is only available for communal properties. Speaking to ZDNet UK ahead of the Prices Court switch-on, Ivanovic said that, to sign up for Hyperoptic's services, the decision to go ahead with the core installation needs to be taken collectively, with residents' associations, building management companies and freeholders all giving their permission.

Residents will have a Hyperoptic faceplate in every single flat. If they decide to take the service, it will be instantly available to them.
– Boris Ivanovic, Hyperoptic

Once that is done, Hyperoptic brings fibre into the building's electrical or communications room, usually located in the basement. From there, the company takes fibre optic cables up through the building's ducting to individual flats.

Installation works out at between £100 and £250 per flat, Ivanovic said, explaining that in the case of Prices Court the cost was around £130 for each property. He added that many developments will take this out of their annual maintenance and upgrade budget.

"This doesn't mean each resident wants to take the service, but they will have a Hyperoptic faceplate in every single flat," Ivanovic said. "If they decide to take the service, it will be instantly available to them."

Not every resident may want to have a Hyperoptic faceplate in their flat. Such people can opt out, but they would still get the cable brought to just outside their door. If they subsequently sign up, they would then have to pay £100 or more for an engineer to come out and take the cable across their doorway.

"There is definitely a benefit for each resident to sign up when the whole building signs up," Ivanovic said.

Leasing connectivity

Hyperoptic does not have its own fibre network, leasing connectivity from wholesale providers such as BT and Geo instead. Although a spokeswoman for the company told ZDNet UK in September that Hyperoptic is laying its own fibre to fill in 'notspots', this is not the case, Ivanovic said.

He explained that his firm was focusing on installation and customer service in areas that already have wholesale core fibre nearby. "If someone is located where there is no fibre within two kilometres, we will not put in our own fibre," he said. "For us to be digging roads, there is no value add."

Hyperoptic's services are only available in London for now, although Ivanovic noted that the company would probably start expanding to a larger "core market of seven or eight large cities" in the second quarter of 2012.

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