Wandsworth looks at broadband for social homes

LB Wandsworth are looking at options for installing “super-fast” fibre optic broadband in the borough’s council flats.

Wandsworth Council’s housing committee has approved gathering information on the market and gauging residents’ interest in the idea, prior to an official tender process.

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.

There’s also the potential to extend the high-speed fibre optic link to local businesses.

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.”

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