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London Mayor Seeks Increased Funding for UK Broadband and 5G Mobile

Friday, September 8th, 2017 (11:54 am) - Score 518
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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has warned that the city and other parts of the United Kingdom might be at risk of “grinding to a halt” unless the Government puts more investment towards faster broadband, 5G mobile, transport and other major infrastructure requirements.

Last month the Mayor unveiled a new strategy for improving digital connectivity in the City, which was frustratingly light on detail and didn’t sound radically different from what previous Mayors had already attempted (here). Suffice to say that we’ve been more than a little bit disappointed by past Mayors and had hoped for something more concrete.

Obviously one way to improve matters would be to encourage additional investment into the city’s broadband infrastructure, some of which might already be destined to flow that way as part of the £600m or so that has already been targeted at fostering “full fibre” networks (here). At present the details of that are still being decided, although a new voucher scheme will be part of it (here).

In keeping with that Khan has called on Lord Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), to share a bit more money around.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said:

“Increasing investment in new infrastructure is essential to supporting new growth and jobs in the decades ahead, particularly as Britain leaves the European Union.

I will continue to put the case to Government that good quality, modern infrastructure, including new roads, railways and state-of-the-art broadband and mobile connectivity is crucial if this country is to remain a global economic powerhouse.

London grinding to a halt is not in the nation’s interests, and nor is it in the interests of London that the north of England’s transport network continues to be woefully inadequate.

We cannot afford for new infrastructure investment in any one region to be seen as a zero-sum game – if Britain’s economy is to succeed we need to see increased investment across the country.

I will continue to provide any technical or political support I can to other mayors and local authorities across the UK in order to develop infrastructure plans in their areas.”

Unfortunately the Mayor doesn’t specify how much extra money he thinks is needed or exactly where he’d like to spend it, which leads us to suspect that this might be more about political appearance than constructive progress. However he’s right to be fighting for more investment and we hope that some will be forthcoming.

Most of London (96%) is already quite well covered by “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable networks, with Openreach’s (BT) 40-80Mbps 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, such as Hyperoptic, have also deployed FTTP/H in a fair few parts.

Nevertheless there are still some pretty big pockets left to fill, while even smaller unserved areas in a big city can equate to a large population of people; just ask many of those living around Rotherhithe (Southwark) or the central city area where “fibre” coverage is far from universal. Problems with exchange only lines, risk to transport disruption and high costs make some of the require upgrades extremely difficult.

On top of that London is a major city and some would argue that it should perhaps be looking more towards a Gigabit friendly “full fibre” (FTTP/H/B) future than allowing itself to become reliant on older networks, although that won’t help to fix all of the current slowspots.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. h42422

    As a Rotherhithe riverside resident, the number of projects, pilots, initiatives and calls for investment that have lead to nothing is astonishing. Not a single property in SE16 riverside or around docks have received a cabinet rearrangement, FTTP or anything else for that matter, except for large buildings covered by Hyperoptic.

    To me this seems like another scheme to keep the topic alive and try to put pressure on business decision makers, but if OR have found the area uneconomical to upgrade for the past five years since they fibre enabled Bermondsey exchange, I am inclined to think this is not going to help. This is not a new or unknown problem, and some level of political pressure has been there for years. Economics of the situation have changed for the worse, not better, as OR line rental prices have been cut.

    Unless there is a price tag “it costs this much to upgrade” and money to cover this cost, very little will probably happen in practice. If there is money and it will be distributed by yet another voucher scheme targeting SMEs and not individual homes, nothing at all will happen as the area is purely residential apart from a couple of off licences, takeaway shops and pubs.

    Southwark council is running another study/project as well and it should report back in October, but it will be without budget as well unless someone allocates government or GLA money to this.

    • Steve Jones

      Maybe, just maybe, the USO might come up with something as I don’t see any way there’s a way of “fixing” long EO lines without either major network reconfiguration up to and including FTTP. I know there’s a cost-cap, but if it allows for demand aggregation, then maybe there is some solution.

      In any event, it requires significant money from somewhere.

    • h42422

      Will the presence of Relish poison the USO route? Relish in theory offers up to 24 Mbps for example to my post code, but 9PM speed is less than my 3Mbps ADSL. In practice it will never deliver prime time USO speeds but the potential to achieve this around 4AM is there.

      I have tried to understand the USO proposal but I am not sure how this affects things. I saw a map on Thinkbroadband and the are there is flagged as “under USO speed with fixed line but other alternatives are available”.

      If this is the case and the area is actually sorted from USO perspective, I surely hope the company goes bust ASAP. Not that they deserve anything bad happen to them, but my need for speed will never be solved by them, and they have now a potential to leave us in a limbo without actually providing a service that allows 4K streaming or upload speed able to transmit 20GB of photographs in a reasonable time.

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