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New London mayor urged to take ‘drastic action’ on capital broadband

A YouGov poll for the Foundation for Information Society Policy finds widespread disillusionment among Londoners when it comes to broadband provision in the capital

The Foundation for Information Society Policy (Fisp) has called for the next Mayor of London to take urgent action to address the market failure to provide adequate broadband speed and capacity in the capital.

According to pollsters YouGov, who were commissioned by Fisp to produce a report into broadband services in London, just over a million Londoners are unhappy with their broadband speed and only a third believe the capital has sufficient capacity to meet future demands.

The digital thinktank warned that failure to act threatened London’s ability to compete with other global cities in the future.

Foundation member and telecoms analyst David Brunnen said demand for broadband capacity was sky-rocketing in London, but the infrastructure – still largely based on copper wiring – had a very limited future.

“This dangerous situation will diminish economic and societal growth in the future, unless London’s incoming mayor is able and willing to take drastic action.

“Slow broadband has a particularly negative effect on those who are trying to work flexibly from home, and on small businesses and startups based in people’s homes. They are reliant on speedy internet to run successful operations,” said Brunnen.

“Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are unhappy with their broadband. Unless quick action is taken to support growth and encourage investment, there will be serious repercussions in the near future.”

Digital for Londoners

Fisp urged the leading London mayoral candidates – Labour’s Sadiq Khan and the Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith – to commit to creating a dedicated infrastructure agency devoted to enabling gigabit broadband speeds across the city by 2020. It suggested the agency be called Digital for Londoners (DfL).

“Residents and businesses from Maida Vale to Victoria Square via Marylebone and Soho are amazed that they cannot receive superfast broadband in the heart of London,” said Westminster Council member Jonathan Glanz.

“Their frustration at the lack of clarity, the pace of progress and the unambitious targets which fail to take account of future demand leaves them unable to comprehend why the market cannot or will not provide them with cost effective and affordable superfast or ultrafast broadband connectivity.”

Sue Terpilowski, London policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, added: “Nearly a third of our members said broadband was one of their top three priorities for the new mayor. Our members report significant frustration with widespread ‘not-spots’ and broadband speeds that are lower than in many rural areas”

Fisp said the DfL agency would enhance day-to-day life, boost London’s resilience in a globalised world, establish longer-term objectives among network builders and owners, prompt London borough councils to simplify planning laws and reduce costs for the public sector.

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