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London Mayor mulls broadband subsidy

'Second to none'. Shouldn't we move to none, then?

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London Mayor Ken Livingstone is mulling the idea of public subsidy to ensure that future developments in the capital are wired up for high-speed telecoms services.

According to the report, I>Connecting the capital: information and communications technology in London, the provision of telecommunications services in London is "second to none".

The Mayor reckons Central London offers one of the "most competitive markets in the world for high capacity connectivity" thanks to the high concentration of international businesses and financial services in the city.

Despite this, Mr Livingstone is concerned that London could be left behind. He cites cities in the Far East, for example, where people already have access to residential broadband services offering more than 16 times the capacity of services available in London, and at similar prices.

Outlining his policies on ICT, Mr Livingstone states that there "is a need to ensure that investment continues to be made to spread out access to core high capacity networks".

At this stage, he just wants to keep an eye on the situation to see how the private sector handles the roll-out of advanced services.

However, if the market is unable or unwilling to make the necessary "up front investment in infrastructure", then he is "prepared to examine the case for public sector investment to ensure that major developments are provided with core communications infrastructure from the start, rather than having it built in at a later stage".

He also considers the provision of mobile or wireless communications infrastructure as a further key component of London's world city status and will watch the roll out and take up of the new wireless communications systems with interest, said the report.

This month the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) called on government to begin thinking about the future of high-speed services in the UK.

It pressed on the government to encourage investment in "next generation" broadband infrastructures and services "ahead of the demand curve". ®

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