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Harrow’s Digital Infrastructure

The pandemic has created new cultural shifts for businesses and residents, in particular there is now a huge demand and reliance for digital technology and good broadband connection.

To meet these needs, the council is working with private sector providers to roll out the infrastructure and ensure Harrow has good quality broadband fibre network and mobile phone services for its residents and businesses.

The FAQ section covers some of the main questions regarding poor broadband connection and 4G/5G.

Harrow’s Digital Infrastructure Strategy

Harrow’s Digital Infrastructure Strategy objective is to encourage and facilitate the deployment of full fibre broadband and mobile phone (4G &5G) infrastructure in the borough.

It helps deliver the Borough Plan objective that “Everyone has a quality, energy efficient and digitally-enabled home in a thriving community”.

The development of digital infrastructure is also at the heart of the council’s Economic Strategy, as it supports the development and growth of the local economy as a whole and key sectors within it such as the knowledge economy.

Frequently asked questions

My broadband connection is poor, what can be done to help?

The quality of your broadband connection depends mostly on the type of fibre connection that you have. The best connection is Fibre to the Premises but other connections such as Fibre to the Cabinet can provide sufficient capacity for most household needs.

If your connection is poor, please check Openreach’s plans for your areas.

There are other providers in Harrow too so its worth checking the following:

If Openreach don’t have plans to upgrade your area, the following options are available:

(i) Openreach Community Fibre Partnership

Openreach have a Community Fibre Partnership scheme, if you're not part of their current fibre plans, explore what Openreach describe as a “co-funded fibre option

(ii) Registering your Interest

Broadband providers allow you to register your interest for their service via their website. This helps the provider gain an overall picture of potential demand for their service in an area and can help influence their investment/roll out plans.

(iii) Contacting the Council

There are some limited circumstances where the council may be able to help. Please contact edo.edo@harrow.gov.uk in the first instance.

What plans are there to provide Fibre to the Premises in my area?

As the main infrastructure provider, Openreach does not disclose their investment strategies, citing commercial sensitivity as the reason for this. Openreach’s current roll out plan across the country is a commercial decision based on building out from existing exchanges.

In Harrow, Openreach has rolled out their “Fibre First” programme in Kenton and in Hatch End/South Watford area. In April 2022, Openreach announced a plan to install Full Fibre to 36 new locations across the UK, including a large part of the rest of Harrow between April 2022 and April 2025.

It should be noted that the majority of the well-known broadband service providers (e.g. BT, TalkTalk, Sky, PlusNet) use Openreach infrastructure to deliver their service, so these companies also rely on Openreach’s infrastructure to install fibre from the existing boxes to individual properties. You can check what type of connection is available at your address by going to Openreach or Virginmedia.

Finally, Harrow Council has signed a wayleave agreement with Community Fibre to provide Fibre to the Premises connections to all council owned social housing within the next two years.

The roll out is due to start in May 2022 so look out for information both locally and through the council’s “Homing In” newsletter.

How safe are mobile phone masts, 4G and 5G transmitters?

Harrow Council follows the advice and guidelines set by national Government via Public Health England (PHE) regarding health and safety issues related to 5G. (Since April 2021 PHE is known as the UK Health Security Agency and Office for Health Improvement and Disparities)

PHE endorses the international guidelines for limiting exposure to radio waves, published by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). 

These guidelines cover many uses of radio frequencies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile technologies. The guidelines now take full account of 5G operating at higher frequencies.

Mobile companies are required to ensure that their signals do not exceed the limits set out in the ICNIRP guidelines for the protection of the general public. Planning law and policy requires that planning applications for electronic communications development should be accompanied by a statement or declaration that certifies that when operational, equipment will be compliant with the ICNIRP guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields

For further information, please see Public Health Guidance on mobile phone base stations and 5G mobile technology: a guide.