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London Mayor Unveils Vague Plan to Tackle City’s Broadband “Not Spots”

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 (12:43 pm) - Score 939

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today unveiled a bunch of new measures that are aimed at tackling parts of the city that suffer from slow and unreliable broadband or mobile connectivity “not spots“, such as those that exist around parts of Rotherhithe, Westminster and the central City of London.

At present most of London (96%) is already covered by a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable network, with Openreach’s (BT) ‘up to’ 80Mbps FTTC technology and Virgin Media’s 350Mbps DOCSIS based cable network being the most common forms of connectivity. Not to mention that both operators and some other ISPs (e.g. Hyperoptic) have also deployed FTTP/H in a few parts.

However there are still some pretty big gaps left to fill and as usual a new mayor means a new strategy, although much like previous mayors (e.g. Boris Johnson, Ken Livingston) we seem to be rather short on detail, funding and clear targets.

Instead Khan is planning to hold a connectivity summit with other local authorities in order to discuss the problem (much like Boris did) and he’s also setting up a Not-Spot Team, which will apparently “work with local authorities and providers to identify and deliver solutions to improve connectivity” (Boris did that too). So far, so familiar.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“London is now a leading global tech hub, with thriving start-ups alongside major companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

But our digital connectivity needs to be improved – internet connectivity is now a key public utility, and it is no surprise that some businesses see poor connectivity as a barrier to growth.

If we are to remain competitive in the global economy, we need to ensure every Londoner is able to access a fast and reliable digital connection.

That means working to boost connectivity across London – tackling not-spots, delivering connectivity in the London Underground and working with local authorities to provide digital infrastructure fitting of a global tech hub.”

The Mayor appears keen to encourage London’s local authorities to support him in applying for the Government’s “Digital Infrastructure Funding“, although if this is a reference to the same £400m that the Government has set aside to boost “full fibre” connectivity then it will need to be done in co-ordination with alternative network providers like Hyperoptic or Cityfibre etc. (here).

Khan added that Transport for London (TfL) will also shortly be issuing a formal notice seeking feedback from the industry on how it can best take advantage of its underground and street-level assets to improve connectivity across the capital, while also generating a commercial return. TfL are also already working to ensure that 4G is deployed across the underground by 2019.

David Leam, Infrastructure Director at London First, added:

“We should be making the most of existing infrastructure, including the London Underground network, to boost speeds and deliver coverage to areas that have been left behind. But we also need London’s planners to get behind this work, otherwise our digital ambitions risk being strangled by red tape.”

However sometimes the problem isn’t so much the issue of getting access to high capacity fibre optic cables as it is a problem related to the cost and complexity involved with the local network rearrangement and transport disruption, which is so often required to upgrade certain busy parts of the city.

The announcement also touches on the issue of wayleaves and planning permission. At this point we note that the City of London Corporation has already agreed a new standardised wayleave template (here) for fixed networks and work is now taking place to develop something similar for Mobile operators to use.

You’ll have to forgive some of our slightly cynical tone above but we’ve been left somewhat unimpressed by previous Mayors and their attempts to improve connectivity. Each one has tended to take the same sort of approach, which makes it look like they’re doing something while not actually doing much at all (except taking credit for work already being done by the private sector). Perhaps this time it will be different, we can only hope.

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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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7 Responses
  1. Ultraspeedy says:

    I would had thought he has enough on his plate wrangling funds to re-clad all the buildings let alone fantasies about broadband in an area which compared to other parts of the country is very well connected.

    1. h42422 says:

      40% of Rotherhithe is under the proposed 10Mbps USO. I surely am not too happy with my “well connected” 2.5 Mbps line. London from zone 3 outwards is indeed well connected, but quite a lot of zones 1 and 2 are not actually served any better than the most remote rural communities. This far there have been projects to address the rural issue. Why would it be wrong to do the same in urban areas?

      Surely the mayor and authorities in a city the size of London are able to multitask a bit instead of focusing to just one task at a time?

    2. Ultraspeedy says:

      BT and NOT the mayor is going to fix that for you…. (quickly find and touch wood).

    3. h42422 says:

      OR, Hyperoptic and possibly others will do the actual work to lay in cable, but they could have done so already five years ago when the exchange became fibre enabled, but they have not done so because no one has paid them to do it and the area for historical reasons and bad decisions made 30 years ago is expensive to upgrade.

      If the mayor can help channel funds to do this, I am sure companies are happy to pick up the spade and start digging. This far there has been no external funding. BDUK did not target London. Council has never had a budget for this. Gap funding from residents is difficult to raise as most residents are tenants who do not expect to stay long. Local cabling is aluminium, which means the standard way to solve EO line problem (build a cabinet and rearrange lines) either require a lot of cabinets, which means even more money from somewhere, or leave those a bit farther away still struggle with sluggish speeds.

      I am still not holding my breath, but I welcome any attempt that tries to solve the funding issue.

  2. Matt says:

    I think it’s pretty terrible in one way you look across the border just to France they have a plan in the midst to make 22 Million homes [About 25.5 million total homes] have FTTP by 2022. We can’t even get most of London FTTP never mind rest of country. If anywhere should be 99.9%/100% superfast it should be london.

    1. MikeW says:

      A worthy project, on the basis of cooperation and 20bn euros.Cooperation between private companies and between public & private arenas.

      Bundles of money, and cooperation – traits long identified as part of the UK telecoms market!

      Interesting to see that Orange (France Telecom) are interested in G.Fast for Poland though. It seems that the one company needs to find itself within a suitable political environment before choosing to go the full hog with fibre to the home.

  3. Alloneword says:

    Complete load of BS.
    Read all this kind of cr*p before, just like the other promise the earth and we will still be rocking alot at 2mbits.
    By the time we do do anything getting close to 20+mbit everyone else will be on Gbits speeds.
    Do i trust Khan to deliver anything nope, more chance of winning the lottery and i don’t even buy a ticket

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