Broadband In Council Flats Agreed

Super-speed fibre optic to be installed

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Councillors have agreed to look at options for installing super-speed fibre optic broadband in the borough’s council flats.

Wandsworth Council's housing committee has given the green light to gathering information on the market and gauging residents' interest in the idea, before the official tender process begins.

As part of its Wandsworth Connected campaign, the council wants to ensure estate tenants can get online as easily as the rest of the borough. Currently 85 per cent of Wandsworth residents have some form of internet access - up from 74 per cent in 2007 - but the figure falls to around two thirds among council tenants.

There is nothing to stop tenants subscribing to broadband now, but in blocks of flats this has traditionally been via copper wire. This means they had to pay line rental and delivery speeds are not always as fast as advertised.

Instead, they will each be able to pay for a subscription directly to the fibre optic broadband offered by the company chosen to work in partnership with the council. There would be no charge to the council, so no costs to pass onto council tax payers.

The council believes the super-fast speeds offered by broadband could help council tenants and leaseholders access online services - both from the council and others. Government benefits will merge into one monthly Universal Credit from October 2013 and it's expected that this will need to be managed online.

There's also the potential to extend the high-speed fibre optic link to local businesses, helping them to flourish, and it should see the end of the last remaining unsightly satellite dishes on the side of buildings.

The council's housing spokesman, Cllr Paul Ellis, welcomed the decision to push the project forward.

"We are currently in the middle of a council-wide drive to raise aspirations and increase choice and opportunity across the borough, including on our estates. We're calling this Building an Even Stronger Wandsworth.

"It's not just about improving buildings - although we'll be doing that as well on the Winstanley, York Road and Alton Estates - but about giving people the tools to improve their lives, such as a good education, better transport links and the chance to get online."

Find out more about the council's Building an Even Stronger Wandsworth campaign at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/strongerwandsworth.

 

December 3, 2012