Broadband in SE16 update - Simon Hughes

Broadband in SE16 update

Update on the fight for better broadband in SE16

I have been campaigning to improve broadband speeds for the residents of Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks for some time and wanted to keep you updated on the work I have been doing.

In my opinion the two most likely solutions to fix this problem are as follows:

  1.  Ask BT to upgrade all of their copper cables to fibre optic meaning that everyone will automatically receive much faster internet speeds, or
  2.  Encourage a range of other internet providers who work independently and don’t use BT’s cables to cover the SE16 area.

Unfortunately despite numerous requests from lots of different people and organisations, BT are unwilling at this moment to upgrade the copper cables in SE16. BT have repeatedly and publically stated that it would be too expensive to undertake this kind of work and think the upgrade would not be economically viable. However, I have written to BT again to ask for an update on this matter and further press for an upgrade to their cables.

Following on from this, If you are a resident who needs better broadband the first thing I would recommend is to make sure you register your interest with BT. The more people who do this, the more likely it is that BT will see that SE16 is a commercially viable place to upgrade. You can do this by going to this website here.


What options are there other than BT?


If you are a local business in need of better broadband, the Greater London Authority is able to offer you vouchers of up to £3,000 to help to connect to superfast internet from a large range of internet providers. Unfortunately these vouchers are not for residents, but groups of businesses can come together and put in a joint application for the funds. For more information you can visit this website here


Following on from this, one of the most exciting plans I am currently supporting and assisting in is that of the Rotherhithe Broadband Group. The group is made up of local activists who are attempting to install their own separate fibre optic internet structure which could connect to both residents and businesses. There are lots of possibilities with this option and the group are keen to have more people involved. I would therefore recommend you visit the group’s website or contact them directly at

I have also been in contact with Hyperoptic. This company doesn’t use BT’s cables and instead installs its own fibre optic wiring to homes or businesses which request it. However one of the biggest restrictions with Hyperoptic is that they predominantly install to large buildings or tower blocks where they can lay one cable but then connect it to lots of individual flats. However, If you live in a building which contains lots of flats or have a business in a large building, I would strongly recommend that you contact Hyperoptic on 0333 332 1111 or visit their website to see if they can help.

I have also met with representatives of UK Broadband who operate Relish. This is a completely wireless broadband provider which uses 4G technology rather than fibre optic to bring faster internet to homes and businesses. Currently Relish only has limited residential coverage in the SE16 area but having recently met with their CEO, he has confirmed to me that Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks is one of their biggest target areas to expand to. They are currently auditing the area to see where they can set up some of their antennas (which I have been informed are smaller than a sheet of A4 paper) and I have offered them my support in this should they need it.

I have also supported Relish in their application to Ofcom to extend their spectrum licence. The company made it very clear that if they could extend their licence to beyond 2018 they would be able to expand their coverage to areas like SE16 a lot more quickly. This is why I wrote to Ofcom as part of their consultation urging them to promote the interests of residents and businesses and extend the licence. You can see my consultation submission here and find out more about Relish here


If you would like any more information about the above internet providers or about the work I am doing to improve broadband speeds in SE16, please contact me at