Cluttons welcomes PM’s commitment to connectivity – but there are significant challenges ahead

Cluttons, the property consultancy and market leading adviser to the largest mobile operators and fixed-line providers, welcomes Boris Johnson’s commitment to making connectivity one of his top five priorities.

Charles Thomas, head of fibre network at Cluttons comments:

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s optimism and support for improving connectivity across the UK. However, delivering on this promise will need the Government to support the Electronic Communication Code legislation which is designed to make it easier for network operators to install and maintain apparatus such as phone masts, exchanges and cabinets on public and private land – and ensure the principles are put into action to drive the roll out of 5G.

The Government and Ofcom need to take note of what CityFibre, Gigaclear and G-Networks, amongst others, are already doing across both rural and urban scenes. Much more needs to be done to encourage private investment in this sector with regulations clarified surrounding over build of infrastructure, ensuring a healthy competitive environment and clarity surrounding Fibre To The Home versus Fibre To The Cabinet advertising.”

Despite the recognised need to improve the UK’s digital infrastructure, recent research by Cluttons highlights that significant digital connectivity gaps across the UK prevail. When rating broadband performance, 18% of landlords in London and the South East said that it does not meet their needs. The corresponding figure for office tenants in London is 12%.

One fifth (21%) of London’s office landlords ranked Wi-Fi coverage as not meeting their needs. 18% of office workers also said Wi-Fi was inadequate. One tenth (9%) of London and the South East landlords cited mobile phone reception as inadequate, with this figure rising to 17% amongst London’s office tenants.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Charles Thomas, said:

“We have heard a great deal about the UK’s poor connectivity and particularly that of London. Our research shows that there is still some way to go before the connectivity gap is closed and we can provide all UK businesses with digital performance which outperforms expectations. This will require collaboration across all parties, including the property sector if buildings are to live up to the full potential the next generation of technology offers.”

Cluttons is one of the few property consultancies in the UK offering a service aimed at delivering wayleaves and easements on behalf of independent service providers (ISPs), for the connection of fibre to customer premises. For example, it has recently acquired 25 data centres on behalf of CityFibre across 11 cities, facilitating the rollout of full fibre networks in these towns and cities.