Broadband Access to be Boosted in Borough

Fibre optic cabling to be installed in CCTV underground ducts

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council has teamed up with ITS Technology Group to offer improved broadband speed and coverage across the borough.

The council says it is the first in England to let out access to all 15km of the underground ducts through which the authority's CCTV network runs.

The duct asset contract will see technicians install fibre optic cabling within the ducts. This new resource will then be used by ITS to offer internet users improved connectivity and increased speed getting online.

Under the terms of the agreement, ITS will pay the council for access rights along with a share of future profits generated by the venture.

Establishing better broadband speeds and connectivity could help small businesses to thrive and also attract new businesses into the borough as ITS has said it intends to sell to local businesses at affordable prices.

ITS has also indicated it will enable improved internet connectivity to blocks of flats and other large-scale properties. In addition, the move will make it possible for registered social landlords to offer broadband services to tenants as part of their accommodation package - beneficial for example in student accommodation.

The contract is for a ten year period and is expected to start in April.

H&F Council's deputy leader Cllr Greg Smith says the move, which has already attracted interest from other local authorities, will provide the council with an entirely new revenue stream that would be ploughed back into front line services.

"Awarding access rights to miles and miles of CCTV ducts is something that hasn't been seen before in this country," he says. " It's a trailblazing new approach to asset management that will provide the council with a small financial boost in a climate of shrinking budgets. The returns may be modest in the grand scheme of things but every little helps."

Last year, the council announced the start of a digital revolution in the borough with the onset of free wifi coverage through a contract to communications company Arqiva to provide an H&F-branded wifi service - using the council's lampposts to install the network.

Through the service, registered users get 30 minutes of free wifi a day and unlimited access to the council's website at zero cost to the taxpayer. There is also a flexible pay-as-you-go model without any commitment from users to spend after the first 30 minutes free has finished.

The first part of the borough to benefit from the scheme was Shepherd's Bush which received free wifi at the end of 2013. Hammersmith will receive the free wifi soon and Fulham by mid- 2014.