Openreach beefs up broadband in London’s Smithfield Market

Meat traders in London’s historic Smithfield market can now enjoy cutting edge broadband after engineers installed more than 2.5km of fibre optic cable to future-proof the Grade II listed site with the latest ultrafast full fibre technology.

Openreach engineers have now completed work to connect all three of the iconic market buildings – located within the Square Mile of the City of London - with the latest Fibre-to-the-Premises technology (FTTP), with the network now live and providing reliable and fast connectivity to 80 trading offices across the entire site. All 42 businesses operating at Smithfield can now order a service.

The future-proof technology is capable of delivering download speeds of up to one gigabit per second (1Gbps) – one hundred times faster than the market’s old copper network. It will enable to market traders to install new smart kitchen appliances, use cutting edge trading technology, and make uninterrupted video calls with suppliers, reducing the need for expensive London travel.

The build is part of Openreach’s nationwide investment programme in future-proof FTTP networks, which is on track to reach three million homes and businesses by the end of 2020. The company’s ambition is to build FTTP to around 10 million premises by the mid-2020s and ultimately to the majority of the UK under the right conditions.

Openreach has already built full fibre broadband technology to more than 680,000 premises across the country and is reaching around 13k homes and businesses every week. In the capital, the company’s ‘Fibre First’ build programme is on track to reach more than 65,000 homes and businesses with ultrafast broadband by the end of March 2019.

One business owner already connected up to the new, more reliable network is Christiaan Rook, who manages meat wholesalers, Gordan Meats, Finclass Ltd and Vixelli Ltd. Mr Rook’s businesses employ 50 staff – mainly butchers and delivery drivers - across the Smithfield site.

Christiaan said: “More and more clients are now using electronic means of placing orders and invoicing us, which means there is more and more data needing to be processed and managed over broadband. A full fibre connection will allow us to process those orders much more quickly and securely.

“The industry is surprisingly still very old fashioned – we still receive a majority of orders by phone or fax, but things are changing. Our new phone system is now cloud based – so having a reliable fast fibre connection is essential.

“We now back up all our financial data in the cloud* – which means we can back up essential office information daily without it interfering with the rest of the operation. At the moment if we try that we can’t work because we’re restricted by the speed of our broadband connection.

“We do back up our data internally – but it is useful to be able to back up our data off-site in this way – if there was a disaster on-site and we lost access to all our data – we wouldn’t be able to function as a business.”

Christiaan added that reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity was now an essential tool for any business wanting to survive and thrive in a digital world. He said: “Broadband connectivity touches so many different aspects of our business now. For example, we have CCTV in all the companies – which runs over the web. Having that backed up by a reliable broadband connection is important and fibre will do that. We also have broadband based temperature control – so we can monitor our fridges online – which we can also do remotely using a mobile phone app.

“We’re also aware that the old copper lines that were serving the market were eventually going to disappear, so we wanted to be ready for the future. I think having access to fibre will definitely be a boost for all the businesses based here.”

Kim Mears, MD Strategic Infrastructure Development, said:

“Make no bones about it, we live and work in an increasingly digital world with broadband now supporting virtually every aspect of our lives. So, whether you run a start-up in the fast-moving tech sector or a more traditional business like the meat traders in Smithfield market, access to predictable, reliable and future proofed broadband connectivity is fast becoming indispensable. It can help businesses to boost productivity, improve the services they offer to their customers, and collaborate and compete in new markets anywhere in the world.

“London’s already one of the best connected cities in the world and the UK has the largest digital economy in the G20, but as our demand for data grows, we need to make sure we stay ahead of the curve by building fast, reliable, future-proof networks that will cater for all the activities we’ll want to do online in the decades ahead.”

Catherine McGuinness, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee, said:

“With many City businesses now demanding faster speeds, and Ofcom reporting that SMEs experience poorer superfast broadband coverage compared to wider consumers, I am so pleased that the 42 businesses located at Smithfield Market have plugged in to FTTP.

“As a world-leading business district and cultural destination with 99% of City firms now SMEs, future-proofing our digital services and heritage assets continues to be a priority, particularly in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.”


Notes to Editors:

*With cloud-based IT, computing applications and data are hosted out on the internet (the ‘cloud’), instead of on personal computers or office-based servers. Applications and data are stored in data centres accessed over the internet. Access can be restricted via a ‘virtual private network’, so only business staff can see business data.

Businesses can minimise the expense of technology infrastructure by moving to cloud-based services for CRM (customer relationship management), billing and support. These services are normally able to offer better value than in-house functions.

Fibre broadband also gives your business the means to take up other cloud-based services that can have a very real impact on businesses bottom line. For example, Voice Over IP solutions (VOIP) (merging your data and telephony and running it over one network connection) or online customer ordering and delivery tracking systems.


What difference does full fibre broadband make?


Ultrafast broadband makes everything happen so much more quickly. For example;

Businesses, or small businesses operating from home, will be able remain economically competitive with competitors from all over the UK and around the world. Ultrafast will make uploading, downloading and transferring large files much easier and allow for uninterrupted monitoring, video conferencing and streaming.

It only takes a few minutes to back-up valuable information and businesses no longer need to worry about routine back-ups.

Without customer and billing data businesses would fail. Fibre broadband means they can back up data off site and securely archive it so not have to rely on ageing servers sitting under a desk.

Businesses can access data, files and information easily and securely – and from almost anywhere.

Fibre broadband allows businesses to make their marketing digital, reaching customers through new, faster, richer and easier to track communications - all over the world.

There are no geographical boundaries, so new customers could be everywhere and anywhere. And with online communications and online sales businesses can reach them quickly.

Ultrafast broadband enables the people within your home to be online at the same time. You’ll be able to do several things simultaneously such as streaming live music, enjoying the latest release on streaming platforms, and uploading large files to social media. There’s enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies or TV simultaneously, without waiting or buffering. In fact, downloading a typical HD film would take less time than it takes to make a cup of tea.

As the UK become more connected than ever before, full fibre broadband will ensure a reliable connection to millions of homes across the country – whether it’s turning up the heating from the comfort of your sofa

or checking in on an ageing parent through a telehealth app.

For further information

Enquiries about this story can be made to the Openreach PR team on 020 7809 7950or email; our web site.


About Openreach

Openreach is the UK’s digital network business.

We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses - large and small - to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 600 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom.

Any company can access our products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2018, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visitopenreach.co.uk