I’m currently living in Sutton, London. This has been the farthest from central London I’ve ever lived. There are many advantages of living in the outskirts of London, like flats sizes. Even though rent stays more or less the same, rooms get slightly larger, which has been a nice perk. For the past 8 years I lived in zone 1-3, so naturally I never thought of enquiring about the internet speed when moving into new flats. I may have been naive but I was lucky that all the flats I lived in had high internet speeds. So when I moved into my flat in Sutton and discovered the internet speed was
bad, appalling I assumed it would just be the provider, Sky. While checking other providers I soon realised it hasn’t only Sky…
Talk Talk, Sky & PlusNet
It became apparent FAST that it wasn’t the providers. It was the building’s problem. The building’s internet infrastructure didn’t support fast internet.
I was annoyed but I didn’t think too much of it, after all this was back in 2019 when going to work 5 days a week was a normal thing. I wasn’t much in the flat so I forgot about it for a while. It was clear the only solution was to move, which I plan to do the following year, in 2020…. But of course the pandemic started.
I was stuck with
bad, appalling, atrocious Internet in Sutton.
That’s my “Download Speed” from PlusNet, speed provided by Fast.com. I switch to PlusNet since it was cheaper. But everyone knows the speed you actually download is different. I’m using a small software on Mac Catalina called MenuMeters which show’s actual download speeds on the menu bar. In windows I used Networx when it was free.
Three 4G router
A 4G router was the closest thing to an upgrade I could get in a pandemic. I had to get one since I was working from home and the PlusNet internet just wasn’t cutting it. I signup with Three for 20£ a month with unlimited internet plus a free Alexa. Given the situation this wasn’t a bad deal. This helped and increased my speed to almost double! 1.8MB/s! Of course this is far from great. The upgrade was nice but it barely lets me work. (Yes I’m still using it, this story does not have a happy ending).
The Speedify Discovery
After a couple of months searching for a way to increase my internet speed I came across Speedify
Speedify is a very interesting service. What Speedify essentially does is adds up all your internet connections to increase your internet speed. Since I had now my PlusNet wifi and my Three 4G router I decided to give it a go. It worked, it wasn’t a great improvement but it was an improvement nonetheless. There were a couple of drawbacks. Speedify requires to have different wifi cards to connect to each wifi connection. I luckily had a couple of wifi card dongles, so I tried connecting to my PlusNet wifi, my Three router wifi and my phone’s hotspot wifi. I ended up having a download speed of 3.3MB/s, this was considerably better than 1.8MB/s. It was a very nice upgrade the only problem is Speedify works as a plan. The first 2Gb are free after that it has a monthly costs. It wasn’t a permanent solution.
Information on building
After a couple of months of forgetting about it I saw a construction worker with a jacket from a fiber optics company. I enquired in our reception wether they were here to install fiber optics, and if so, when that would happen. To my disappointment reception told me they were only enquiring about a flat. I wonder if he ended up letting here. Reception also told me upgrading the internet’s infrastructure was deemed not cost effective but that it was considered. They threw around a number of 8 to 12 thousand pounds for the installation of each floor. Multiply that by 12 and it’s a good chunk of money. It was clear the building’s management didn’t have any intention of upgrading anytime soon and the only option was to move when the pandemic was over.
Hyperoptics to the rescue
While checking what providers I could switch too I came across Hyperoptics. They of course weren’t available for my building but I signed up for their email notification incase that changed. After a several months they got back to me via email asking if I could help them get in contact with the building manager, to start talks about upgrading the internet infrastructure.
After a couple of email exchanges of me, explaining the situation of it not being cost effective for management, they replied back saying that Hyperoptics would cover all these costs and If I became a champion for them I would get a year of free Internet with them. Becoming a champion for Hyperoptics mainly entails helping them get in contact with the building manager or owner of the building, talking to your neighbours and encouraging everyone to support the installation of Hyperoptics. I had been doing this one way or another for the past 6 months so I said sure.
Building manager is not cooperating
After two years living in the building I was making progress, the sweet sweet fiber speed would soon be installed …surely. Following a couple of ignored emails to management enquiring about Hyperoptic’s installation I decided to give them a call. While passing through several automated redirect I finally got through to a human. I asked if there was an ETA for the installation. To my disappointment and surprise management told me they would not be going ahead with Hyperoptics. Not only that but there was no alternative and that management didn’t have any plans for upgrading the buildings internet infrastructure any time soon. I pushed to get some answered but the person who I was talking with didn’t know the whole story and said that’s all the information they could provide me. This left me annoyed and with several questions.
- Most people are working from home, wouldn’t it make more sense to upgrade the internet speed of the building and advertise the building has fiber for more people to move in?
- Did the building need a special permission to carry this installation?
- Maybe there was still a price that management would need to cover and didn’t want to.
- We had some friends living in the building a couple of months ago. In between the time when they gave their notice and the time they moved they didn’t have anyone come see the flat. Was the flat still empty? Was this some how connected with management not wanting to upgrade the infrastructure?
What’s left to do
At this point my options look bleak. Moving is always an option specially now that the pandemic has eased a bit but after so much effort at the very least I would like to know why they don’t want to upgrade.