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Assembly report slams London's 'embarrassing' connectivity problems

Thursday, June 29th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The “embarrassing” state of London’s digital connectivity is threatening the capital’s future success, London Assembly members have claimed.

A report by the London Assembly Regeneration Committee says not spots and “digital deserts” in areas such as Rotherhithe and Southwark leave the capital poorly served.

It also slams the lack of full fibre connections in London and the city’s patchy 4G mobile coverage.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Mayor of London’s soon-to-be-appointed chief digital officer.

These include enabling Londoners to make better-informed decisions about their connectivity needs and encouraging boroughs to produce local connectivity plans.

Assembly members also want Transport for London to open up its ducts so providers can utilise existing networks to roll out new infrastructure.

Committee chair Navin Shah said: “London’s digital connectivity is frankly embarrassing in some areas and will no doubt lead to major issues in terms of London’s global attractiveness as a place to live, work and do business.

“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.”

'The next level'

Launching his search for a chief digital officer last month, London mayor Sadiq Khan said he wanted to make London the world’s leading ‘smart city’.

“I want to take the digital transformation of our public services to the next level, so we can improve the ways in which we plan and deliver public services for Londoners,” he said.

A report by OpenSignal last year found that London has the best 4G coverage of anywhere in the UK – but the slowest speeds.

RootMetrics also recently said it had seen an increase in London of “advanced 4G technologies” and said EE had the best mobile network in the capital.

O2 has said it will invest £80m improving mobile coverage in London including installing 1,400 transmitters known as ‘small cells’ across the city by the end of the year.

It has also announced a multi-million pound plan to build a free public wi-fi network in the Square Mile.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Mr Khan and TfL are in talks with telecoms firms over plans to install a 4G service on the London Underground. TfL said it was “keen to offer full mobile phone coverage” to its customers.

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