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Local London Set Strategy to Tackle Gigabit Broadband Notspots

Wednesday, Jan 31st, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 1,000
Central-London-UK-Broadband-Picture-2024-123rf

The Local London organisation, which is one of four sub-regional partnerships in the UK’s capital city, has today published a new Digital Infrastructure Strategy, which among other things aims to tackle over 150,000 premises in south and east London that “do not have access to high speed – Gigabit capable – internet connections“.

According to the new Digital Strategy, there are currently estimated to be over 151,000 premises in Local London and 73,000 premises in the South London Partnership that are unable to obtain a Gigabit-capable broadband service from an ISP. Over 29,000 premises also sit in a “not spot,” which in this case seems to mean they’re “unable to receive even a 30Mbps service“. 

NOTE: The latest data from Thinkbroadband states that 98.50% of premises can access a fixed 30Mbps+ broadband service in London, which falls to 89.59% for gigabit (c.1000Mbps) lines or 65.55% when only looking at full fibre (FTTP).

Suffice to say, while fixed broadband coverage across the city is actually fairly strong, there remain some well-known patches of poor connectivity that have yet to be resolved by commercial investment. By comparison, most of the UK Government’s public funding (e.g. Project Gigabit) tends to be directed more toward remote rural areas, where there’s usually little to no prospect of major private sector builds and fewer competition concerns with the use of state aid.

Mapping out the digitally poor postcodes, the new strategy highlights best practices, learning and actions that the public and private sector can take together to help “build world-leading digital infrastructure for some of the fastest growing parts of London.” This is part of a wider pilot that aims to deliver an interactive mapping tool and an online digital toolkit, which will assist borough officers to deliver digital infrastructure to their sites and leverage additional commercial digital infrastructure investment.

Broadband-Speeds-in-the-Local-London-Areas-2024

The strategy highlights some of the usual challenges with improving the situation in London (e.g. complexity of securing wayleave agreements, fragmentation of responsibility between boroughs, build challenges with legacy infrastructure, cost, lack of public subsidy and so forth), before proposing ways of resolving this and attracting more inward investment (tricky in the current climate).

Key Focus Areas

• Map and statistics illustrating clearly where poor digital infrastructure issues lie.

• Recommendations for public sector resourcing and roles, industry engagement, procurement options and commercial models, and key components of a successful delivery strategy.

• Case studies and examples from across the UK demonstrating successful ways of working and benefits gained.

• The strategic, commercial, financial, management case and options analysis.

Theo Blackwell MBE, Chief Digital Officer, Greater London Authority, said:

“Widely available, easily accessible digital connectivity is essential for people to reach public services and is key to helping cities grow through driving innovation and the creation of new businesses.

Yet there are still parts of London that suffer from a lack of commercial investment in digital infrastructure, and this results in gaps in internet coverage or ‘not spots’.

We must address these gaps and drive the up the quality and accessibility of the services that are already available, to help the capital to be a fairer, more prosperous, and more equal London for everyone.”

Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, Chairman of Local London and Leader of London Borough of Bexley, said:

“We are delighted to launch the ‘Sub-regional Digital Infrastructure Strategy’ with our colleagues at South London Partnership. This provides step-by-step guidance to public sector colleagues for unlocking inward investment and maximising existing infrastructure to benefit people and businesses in the area. Along with the database and digital toolkit, this pilot approach will help all 14 boroughs tackle the digital divide, whilst also creating a legacy of learning that have even wider benefits.”

At this point, we’ve lost count of how many reports and strategies we’ve seen for improving fixed broadband connectivity in London over the years, which – after the sound bites are done – always seem to end up leaving gaps and kicking the can down the road when it comes to tackling the hardest bits. Progress does get made, just not enough to reach everybody.

Suffice to say, it would be all too easy to level a degree of pessimism at this report too, but the feeling we get from reading it is that Local London has actually done a fairly strong job of examining the issues and how to potentially address them. In template terms, it’s a reasonably confident effort and demonstrates a good level of knowledge about the underlying issues. As starting points go, it’s a good one.

The challenge thus shifts to the problem of turning that knowledge and ambition into tangible action, something – a real change – that people living in these areas can actually see. Some solid coverage targets and funding commitments might help that, but at present these have yet to be set.

As a complement to this, we recommend checking out Project Gigabit’s examination of broadband coverage across the much wider Greater London area (here).

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
5 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Obi says:

    Thanks for this article Mark, this is the first I’ve heard of idea about this organisation, and hope they expand their strategy to other boroughs.

  2. Avatar photo Jack says:

    This councillor instead of “adhering to the strategy” should’ve just pushed her housing team to sign their housing stock

    1. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      Bexley seems to have a really poor reputation for being obstructive to streetworks, to the extent that utility companies find it hard to persuade contractors to work in the borough. Maybe a more receptive approach to investment would improve coverage and bring them in line with their neighbours.

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Can’t claim to have done something about it if they do that.

      Making a song and dance about it and then after they did nothing but talk, claim that they made a difference and vote for me.

      Self-serving as always.

  3. Avatar photo Bruce Williams says:

    Bromley and Croydon are of the worst boroughs for utility companies to d8g in. With regard to fibre coverage, it amazes me that so many of these companies overlay their networks ontop of each other. In Barnet we’ve got some roads with OR, community fibre, Openinfra and Virgin media all offering FTTH. Whilst some roads only have FTTC. Madness.

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