London suffers from 'sub-standard' connectivity - report

Worse than York, which is 'frankly embarrassing'

The Shard skyscraper in central London. Pic: Shutterstock

The capital has "sub-standard" broadband and 4G speeds, causing it to lag behind smaller UK cities such as York, Coventry and Edinburgh - according to a report (PDF) today by the London Assembly.

Poor connectivity is threatening London's success and international competitiveness, as the capital suffers from "not spots" and "digital deserts" in areas like Rotherhithe in Southwark, it said.

Navin Shah, chair of the Regeneration Committee, said: “London’s digital connectivity is frankly embarrassing in some areas."

The London Assembly Regeneration Committee investigation noted that London lacks full fibre connections, ranking 30 out of 63 cities across the UK when it comes to high broadband speeds. The capital is also held back by limited 4G coverage – ranking in the bottom five UK cities with 73.6 per cent of 4G coverage, it said.

A report by consumer charity Which? yesterday found that the London boroughs of Southwark, Westminster, Lambeth, Hackney and the City of London were all found to be lagging behind the UK average of 17Mbps.

However, former broadband minister Ed Vaizey dismissed the report, claiming that average speeds were low because only one-third of people choose to take up superfast broadband.

The report called on London's incoming chief digital officer - a role which is being advertised for £107,000 per annum - must support Londoners to make well-informed decisions about their connectivity needs. The CDO should also encourage Transport for London to grant providers access to the ducts they own, so that they can use existing networks as opportunities.

Shah said: “We need to act before it’s too late and London’s success is threatened. More can be done to solve London’s connectivity problems and with the imminent appointment of the Chief Digital Officer, the Mayor can provide real strategic leadership in this essential area.” ®


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