The Bedford Estates is one of the capital’s landed estates, covering some 30 acres, and includes commercial offices, educational centres, homes, shops, restaurants and hotels as well as garden squares. And now residents have something else to celebrate: the Bedford Estates’ buildings are being upgraded to 100% full fibre, thanks to G.Network.
Back in 2018, the Estates understood that decent broadband was increasingly being seen as a ‘fourth utility’ for tenants, and decided to launch an upgrade project. That led to a partnership with G.Network, which has seen us busily installing our state-of-art connections to residents and businesses across every building. And we’re already making rapid progress.
Average internet speeds in the area sit around or just below the London average of 66 Megabits per second (Mbps). But with G.Network connections, any resident or business will be able to access speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps): more than 150 times faster than existing connections. With so many people continuing to work from home, the upgrade will be invaluable.
As Louis Braham, the Asset Manager for the Bedford Estates, put it, “We have been working closely with G.Network over the last two years to install fibre connectivity throughout our Estate. Occupiers across Bloomsbury are now starting to benefit from that investment.”
To date, our connections are available in Bloomsbury Place, Bloomsbury Square, Bedford Place, Montague Street, Store Street, Bedford Square and Adeline Place and we’re rolling out further with every passing month.
Thanks to the Bedford Estates’ foresight, and our connectivity, many Bloomsbury residents will be able to connect, learn, stream, shop and work online as never before.
If Londoners can agree on anything, it’s probably that we’re living in unpredictable times. The open, accessible, thriving London of twelve months ago seems like a different world. As Coronavirus continues to threaten the health of the country and the economy, it’s already clear that life as we know it is undergoing a profound, swift and possibly irreversible change. It’s also clear that no sector has been left untouched, and that every business across the capital is having to make new decisions about its future.
Those decisions have big consequences for London’s commercial landlords. In this post we wanted to look at the impact of Coronavirus on central London office space, and what the ‘new normal’ could look like in the future.
For many firms who are renting office space in central London, the last few months have been a chance to re-evaluate the space that they need. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that, in April 2020, “46.6% of people in employment did some work at home. Of those who did some work from home, 86.0% did so as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” If even a small proportion of the managers of these firms are reconsidering how much office space they need in future, there could be trouble in store for commercial landlords.
But there are positives too. A recent article from commercial real estate platform Costar claimed that flexible office spaces are likely to be beneficiaries of the slow return to work. If companies move to a model under which their staff permanently mix working from home and the office, they will be looking for a space that reacts and responds to those changing patterns.
Of course, there will be intense competition between landlords to lure these office tenants back. So what might tempt them? If we are all going to be moving around more, there may be two things that commercial tenants may want to see.
Firstly, an ability for all staff to connect and participate, regardless of where in London they’re based that day. Around 15% of the capital’s connections are ‘full fibre’ – that is, they rely purely on the most modern fibre optic connections that deliver faster speeds and better reliability. Older, slower connections don’t necessarily give teams connectivity they need to participate fully in meetings and conferences online.
Secondly, when staff do come into the office, an ability to get down to work quickly and deliver if they’re only going to be there for a day, or even a few hours. According to Property Week, “up to 72 minutes of our working day can be lost as a result of slow and outdated technology or poor connectivity.” This is not going to be acceptable, to managers and staff alike.
The pandemic has made clear that broadband is now a ‘fourth utility’ alongside water, electricity and gas. That’s why we’re having ever more conversations with commercial landlords about installing our full fibre connectivity into their buildings. If you’d like to be next, we’d love to talk to you.
It’s now been several months since large numbers of Londoners were instructed to work from home. Over the summer, as speculation about a return to office life began to increase, we asked YouGov, a leading pollster, to investigate if Londoners want to keep working from home after lockdown, and what would stop them.
The research found that a major blocker to continued homeworking is broadband. A majority of the Londoners surveyed said that they wanted to carry on working from home after lockdown ends – but only if their broadband improves. In fact, 59% of London residents would want to keep working from home at least some days of the week if their broadband was faster and more reliable.
We also asked how many of them had had problems with their broadband speed or reliability. We found that two-thirds of Londoners have experienced problems with their broadband speed or reliability since lockdown started. 43.4% of those polled said they had reliability issues, such as connection drop outs, while 22.6% have encountered issues with their speed.
Given that most internet users in London are still using copper in parts of their connection, this is not that surprising. A lot of the copper that Londoners rely on to communicate, stream and work online has been in the ground since the last century, when it was installed as telephones were rolled out. It was never designed to carry internet traffic, and, many Londoners are realising that copper just can’t deliver the speeds they need.
Finally we found that more than one in five (22.1%) of respondents reported feeling more stressed because of their connection problems, 12.7% reporting they had been unable to relax at home and a further 12.6% said their connectivity had had an impact on their productivity.
The pandemic has taught us many valuable lessons. One of them is that, beyond doubt, London’s broadband infrastructure needs an urgent upgrade. If individual boroughs, or the entire city, go back into lockdown over winter, the priority of this urgent infrastructure project is only going to rise.
At G.Network we’re working hard to rebuild London’s broadband connectivity, laying brand new fibre in the ground with no copper mixed into our network. Because of this, we can offer 900 mbps to our residential customers and up to 10 gig for our business customers.
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Why we’re paying the London Living Wage
This week, G.Network became an accredited London Living Wage employer. We were recognised by the London Living Wage Foundation for the fact that all of our staff, contractors and subcontractors’ staff are all paid at least a real Living Wage.
The London Living Wage is higher than the National Minimum Wage which is set by the government. The Living Wage is calculated independently, and reflects the cost of living in London. The calculation is performed every year.
As an organisation, we’re delighted to be accredited by the Foundation. We chose to become a Living Wage employer because we recognise that everyone who works for G.Network, including our apprentices, subcontractors and temporary staff, needs to be able to support a life outside work. As a London-focused company, we’re all too aware of the costs of living in our amazing capital city.
Despite the pandemic, we’re continuing to grow as a company. If there is one lesson that has been learned during lockdown, it’s that London needs better broadband. Our network is expanding across the capital every day, and we’re going to need more G.Networkers to help us fulfil our mission to rebuild London’s broadband from the fibre up. And our London Living Wage accreditation is yet another sign that we’re also here to support our staff, and to give back to the communities in which we operate.
If you’re interested in joining us, check out our job opportunities. They’re all listed on our vacancy page.