With less than 24 hours before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announces the Autumn Statement, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the Chancellor to improve broadband connectivity speeds in the capital.
Despite being a centre of world commerce London’s current broadband connectivity is poor in some areas. It is believed that there are 650,000 “not spots”, where speeds are believed to be ten times lower than the current UK average of 28.9 Mbps. A parliament select committee on digital skills reported that during the years 2014-2015, London ranked a measly 26th when connectivity was compared against other European capital cities in terms of download speeds. London scored 25.44 Mbps. Bucharest came top with 80.14 Mbps.
All of this is hindering around 300,000 residents in the capital, many of which work from home, needing good, strong, internet connectivity which they currently do not receive. This is mostly due to outmoded wiring and infrastructure. Tower Hamlets, Southwark, and Westminster, suffer the most from poor connectivity.
Khan was extremely clear in his message to Hammond. Writing in The Evening Standard he stated:
“London’s businesses need the Government to get a move on with tackling the painfully slow broadband speeds which are holding back large parts of the city.
“Without world-class connectivity to the internet, our cutting-edge businesses will move elsewhere, taking with them well-paid jobs.”
He went on to say that he wanted Hammond to create a “Gold standard” for London, ensuring fast speeds would be available throughout the capital.
It is not just broadband which is patchy in London. Some parts of the city struggle to get 3G mobile connectivity.
Will Hammond Deliver?
To some degree Philip Hammond will meet Khan’s demands. It is strongly believed he will announce a £1bn investment programme to improve Britain’s broadband infrastructure and mobile connectivity to the internet. The Digital Infrastructure Fund comprises of a £400 million investment in “full-fibre” broadband network and £700 million in 5G. This is believed to be matched by private sector investment.
Earlier this year the government backtracked on its pledge to ensure that rural areas will receive good broadband connectivity. Five percent of UK homes have poor connections, well below the promised 10 Mbps speed. Reasons issued at the time were arguably astonishing stating that “not everybody will want it.”
To some degree Hammond’s budget is to address the criticisms they received over the rural backtrack. In doing so it should help Londoners receive a stronger broadband connection.
Whether or not this will deliver a “Gold standard” is unlikely, but hopefully it will address issues 300,000 Londoners face.