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Efforts to bring superfast broadband access to businesses in the City of London are being held up by the challenges involved in obtaining permission to carry out the necessary infrastructure work.

Openreach is currently working to extend fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to the capital, with the first such connection having been made available for businesses in the City earlier this week.

Laying cables directly from a local exchange to a home or business premise offers a much more reliable broadband, but Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, has told City AM that this is proving difficult to accomplish in London due to how complex it can be to get in touch with the owners of London office buildings.

External infrastructure is being installed successfully, but to complete the internal work, Openreach is having to engage with 10,000 premises across London's centre, with staff often needing to physically track down landlords to gain permission to install the necessary cabling.

Mr Selley explained: "It's tough in London to work out who owns buildings and contact them; it's quite unique, as it's an international city and buildings are owned by people across the planet.

"I worry that some connections could take years if the building owners don't come forward."

The Openreach bosses suggested a number of potential solutions to this problem, such as requiring buildings to display ownership details, and for a central registry to be made available.

He also proposed that new construction projects should involve a requirement to invite an infrastructure provider to install fibre connections as part of the building work.

Catherine McGuinness, chair of the City of London Corporation Policy and Resources Committee, said she shared Mr Selley's concerns about potential delays to this project, due to the growing reliance of the business community on fast broadband connections.

She said: "Highly innovative SMEs in the city need this sort of facility. They need to be able to connect, it's how we do business these days."

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