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London’s success and international competitiveness are under threat because of sub-standard digital connectivity. The capital is poorly served, suffering from ‘not spots’ and ‘digital deserts’, in areas like Rotherhithe in Southwark.
The London Assembly Regeneration Committee investigation into digital connectivity in London found:
- London lacks full fibre connections. In Spain 83 per cent of all its buildings are connected to pure fibre. In the UK the figure is just 3 per cent or even less.
- London is held back by limited 4G coverage – ranking in the bottom 5 UK cities with 73.6 per cent of 4G coverage.
- London ranked 30th out of 63 cities across the UK, in terms of high speed broadband coverage.
The report ‘Digital Connectivity in London’ published on 29 June 2017, makes a number of recommendations to the Mayor’s soon-to-be-appointed Chief Digital Officer:
- The Chief Digital Officer must support Londoners, especially renters, to make well-informed decisions about their connectivity needs. There is little reliable information available before moving into an area.
- The next London Plan should encourage boroughs to produce local connectivity plans to ensure sufficient access to a minimum level of broadband service. Applications for new developments should provide upgrades to connectivity to meet what is outlined in local plans.
- The Chief Digital Officer should encourage Transport for London to grant providers access to the ducts they own, so that they can use existing networks as opportunities.
Navin Shah AM, Chair of the Regeneration Committee, said:
“London’s digital connectivity is frankly embarrassing in some areas and will no doubt lead to major issues in terms of London’s global attractiveness as a place to live, work and do business.
We need to act before it’s too late and London’s success is threatened.
More can be done to solve London’s connectivity problems and with the imminent appointment of the Chief Digital Officer, the Mayor can provide real strategic leadership in this essential area.”