A leading London-based start-up has hit out at the length of time it takes firms to connect a new office to the internet in the capital.  

The founder of an app used by hundreds of thousands of people wishes to remain anonymous, but said in an interview with Techworld that BT taking more than a week to connect start-ups to the internet when they move into a new office in Tech City, and charging them for doing so, is "ridiculous".

“In any other city it would take 24 hours,” he said. “It’s just an embarrassment. This is London and the internet doesn’t work.”

BT said it could not comment in detail without specific information on the services being acquired. However, a spokesperson for the telecoms provider did say: “The provision of a single copper broadband connection in the City of London is around 11.9 days, and would be much less if network already existed into the premises.”

However, the entrepreneur said he has moved office five times in the last two years and experienced the same problem on each occasion.

He added: “Another trick they do is always switch off [the internet] when someone moves out and ask a new mover to sign in to a completely new plan with sign-up costs. Compare that to water or energy that stay on and you just switch accounts.”

The entrepreneur said he was informed by BT on one occasion that the office he was moving into was fibre-ready only to then be told it wasn’t and was eventually connected to an “incredibly weak” line, forcing him to work out of nearby Hoxton Hotel.

He said that tech start-ups based around Old Street roundabout – unofficially known as Silicon Roundabout – have experienced the same connection problems, based on conversations he’s had with other entrepreneurs.

Short-term lease dilemma

The start-up founder also said it was incredibly difficult to find an office on a short-term lease in Tech City.

“You can’t get a six-month place,” he said. “You have to get a three-year place. We did the co-working thing when we were smaller and if there’s two or three of you then you can do that but at some point you need your own place.”

Property consultancy Shoreditch Office Space said this is a problem it sees “time and time again” in Tech City.

Luke Francis, head of relationships at Shoreditch Office Space, told Techworld that it is difficult for young and dynamic start-ups to come into the area at the moment.

The nature of start-up’s development means they require flexibility on leases that provide provision for expansion or relocation, according to Francis. “We currently work with a number of start-ups who have recently secured investment and have doubled or trebled in size,” he said.

“They need to find new spaces that reflect their brand in both property and location, but that are also flexible enough to provide breaks throughout the lease that may be necessary to accommodate growing team size or changing demands of the space,” continued Francis.

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