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New Map of London UK Shows Slow Broadband is Like a Digital Cancer

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 (2:25 pm) - Score 3,902

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today launched a “major drive” to boost broadband connectivity in the capital, although it’s mostly the same stuff as we saw being announced last year. At least there’s now a map to depict just how bad the situation is, especially in the city centre.

But today’s announcement was ultimately all about the launch of two “new” initiatives to help “make the capital the best connected city in Europe” and boost “affordable access to superfast connections for homes and small businesses” (i.e. not just ridiculously expensive Leased Line services).

All of this links into the existing London Infrastructure Plan 2050, which wants 99% of properties in the capital to have access to affordable superfast connections by 2018 and hopes to push 5G mobile out into the wild by 2020 (assuming the hardware is even ready by then).

Initiative 1 – Connectivity Ratings Scheme

Companies and property owners can now register their interest to be part of London’s first Connectivity Ratings Scheme, which will provide tech companies and small businesses with an easy way to identify buildings that meet their connectivity needs and will incentivise landlords to improve the connectivity of their properties prior to tenants moving in.

The scheme will be delivered by WiredScore and the Mayor has contributed £50,000 towards it through the London Enterprise Panel. It will also allow property managers to receive a technical assessment by an engineer into the connectivity in their buildings, which can then advise on improvements and provide either a gold, silver or bronze rating. The rating will be listed on a searchable property directory.

Initiative 2 – Interactive Connectivity Map

Next up we have the new Interactive Connectivity Map, which roughly shows areas of both slow and superfast broadband coverage (see below). The map will also allow residents and businesses to register their interest for faster broadband services and show demand from local premises, which should enable the capital’s broadband ISPs to see where there is demand and encourage new providers to target under-served areas.

When providers deliver new superfast services to an area, people who have opted in will receive an alert that new services are available.

But nearly all of this was already announced last year (here) and so will not come as much of a surprise, although politicians do so enjoy re-announcing such things every 8-12 months.

Meanwhile the Mayor has once again invited some of the city’s largest ISPs, such as BT and Virgin Media, to a second Connectivity Summit in order to discuss how to improve connectivity.. again. It’s not known whether this included any of the smaller, yet increasingly significant, providers such as Cityfibre or Hyperoptic etc.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said:

The incredible excitement generated by London Technology Week is proving once-and-for-all that there is very little to match our great city when it comes to tech innovation, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. By working to deliver world class affordable connectivity for everyone we are ensuring that London has the digital infrastructure in place to stay ahead of our competitors, allowing our tech sector to remain a crucial generator of jobs and growth.”

But one of London’s biggest problems is that, much like other cities, EU state aid rules currently prevent public money being spent to improve general broadband infrastructure. This occurs because it is understandably assumed that the private sector should have no trouble in making the case for investment.

Mind you BT still sometimes struggles with this concept, especially when faced with the dreaded Exchange Only Lines (EOL) problem, although they are conducting trials of various solutions like Fibre-to-the-Remote-Node (FTTrN), Fibre-to-the-Basement (FTTB) and G.fast as well as other potential fixes.

Meanwhile we shouldn’t forget that Virgin Media has recently committed to extend their ultrafast cable network to an additional 4 million premises (60% UK coverage) by 2020 (here), which will predominantly be focused on expansion in urban areas. Not to mention all the efforts by Hyperoptic to link up apartment blocks via FTTP/B.

In other words it appears as if London’s slow-spots will eventually be closed, although whether or not that 99% goal is achieved for London by 2018 remains distinctly less certain, but at least the cancer of slow connectivity is in a very slow remission. Now here’s that map, just don’t be surprised if it almost completely overlooks altnet ISPs, be they fixed line (Hyperoptic) or wireless (Relish)..

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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