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GLA Conservatives – London is One of the Slowest EU Capitals for Broadband

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 (6:00 am) - Score 820
City of london square mile united kingdom

The GLA Conservatives, which represent the Conservative members on the London Assembly, have today used data from Ofcom to claim that 341,592 residents in inner London are without modern “high-speed Internet access” and the city is one of the “worst capitals” in Europe for broadband speed – “behind Paris, Bucharest, Dublin and Kiev“.

Admittedly Ofcom’s “NGA Coverage” data from the 2014 Infrastructure Report (here) may not be the best source of information, although certainly it’s no secret that connectivity in some big parts of London still leaves much to be desired.

Borough Residents without high-speed internet [30Mbps+]
Westminster 103,000
Tower Hamlets 79,500
Southwark 54,600
Wandsworth 22,200
Camden 19,800
Hackney 15,800
Islington 15,600
Hammersmith and Fulham 12,000
Kensington and Chelsea 11,200
City of London 6,700
Total 340,400

A quick look at Ookla’s normally quite over optimistic speedtest data similarly reports that the city as a whole delivers an average download speed of 30.3Mbps, which compares with Kiev on 40Mbps, Dublin at 43.9Mbps, Bucharest on 88.67Mbps and finally there’s Paris with a cool 100Mbps. Mind you performance is not a directly useful reflection of availability.

Victoria Borwick, GLA Conservative Londonwide Assembly Member, said:

Open Reach [BT], the people who lay the cables in the ground, have failed inner London. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are stuck with internet technology over a decade old. At these kinds of speeds it would take 2 hours to upload a 5-minute high-definition video to Youtube.

Internet speeds this low come with a myriad of problems for people trying to work from home, let alone those trying to start a business from their residence. This isn’t just about watching catch-up TV online – this is putting residents’ livelihoods at stake.”

ISPreview.co.uk has covered the related issues, such as the prevalence of BT’s dated Exchange Only Lines (costly to replace) and the inability to use state aid in dense urban areas (this makes sense as you’d expect the big private operators to be able to invest with so many potential customers about), plenty of times before and so we won’t go over it again.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, also claims to have a strategy in place via the existing London Infrastructure Plan 2050, which among other things hopes to ensure that 99% of properties in the capital gain access to affordable superfast connections by 2018 (here). But so far the proposals for achieving this continue to lack crucial detail.

In fairness some operators, such as Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, are busy expanding the reach of their cable and fibre optic infrastructure around the city and part of that will be in the hope of capitalising on BT’s weak spots by bringing better connectivity into related areas. Lest we not forget that Relish’s 50Mbps capable fixed wireless service is also present in parts of central London.

Andrew Campling, BT’s General Manager (London), told ISPreview.co.uk:

These comments are disappointing given BT has invested more than any other company to increase superfast broadband coverage in London.

Our open wholesale network continues to expand, and is now available to around 3 million premises in London. We are trying to reach as many homes and businesses as possible rather than cherry-picking in the most profitable parts of the capital as some are doing.”

Elsewhere Victoria Borwick has said that she will today call upon the Mayor of London to work with her and lobby government to improve residential broadband in these areas, although until the EU chooses to relax their state aid rules then that may yet prove to be rather challenging.

UPDATE 12:20pm

Added a comment from BT above.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Ignition

    I wonder if BT have actually spent more given the costs of deploying their FTTC overbuild compared with Virgin Media’s new network build and DOCSIS 3 overlay networks.

    Certainly in my hyper-local area the amount Virgin Media will have spent by the end of the year is well in excess of the Openreach FTTC bill for the entire exchange.

    The cost differential between the two is pretty substantial: VM spending ~£750 in CapEx per premises passed on the average versus less than £80 of CapEx per premises passed by BT for FTTC in their commercial deployment.

  2. Plenty of info on London coverage and speeds that is recent q2/2015 speeds and coverage less than a week old at http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/?area=E09000033&name=City+of+Westminster

    The banks with their Gigabit are not in there, but of course people like Relish and Hyperoptic are

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