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MP: Broadband in London is worse than Bucharest

Monday, August 17th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Poor broadband means London is being left behind other cities – both in the UK and abroad – an MP has said.

Bob Neill (Con – Bromley & Chislehurst) said the capital is not only lagging behind European cities of similar size like Paris, but more unexpected ones such as Bucharest and Vilnius.

In a letter to digital minister Ed Vaizey, Mr Neill – who is co-chairing a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on London – said the difficulty of accessing fast fibre broadband is “one of the most pressing issues” for people in London.

“Proper digital connectivity has rapidly become a vital utility that strengthens communities and can boost economic productivity,” Mr Neill wrote.

He said that London has an average download speed of 27.4Mbps – around half that in many other European cities.

“Indeed, the list of those we drastically lag behind not only includes cities of comparable size and status, such as Paris, but others further afield including Bucharest, Vilnius, Stockholm and Bern.

“As I am sure you can appreciate, this is, on one level, incredibly frustrating for homeowners in constituencies like mine who understandably expect, living within 10 miles of central London, an adequate coverage.

'Extremely damaging'

“On a more serious level, it is also extremely damaging to businesses of all sizes, hindering their ability to compete effectively and undermining our reputation as a global city.”

Mr Neill welcomed the government’s investment in the rollout of superfast broadband, as well as its connection voucher scheme, but said they were “primarily targeted at rural areas”.

He added: “I understand that this problem is further complicated by state aid rules on commercial provision, however we believe more can, and must, be done to avoid the increasingly disparate picture in which London is not only left behind by other cities, but also countless rural towns and villages.”

The letter came in the same week that the government trumpeted its superfast broadband rollout, saying it had reached 3m homes.

Official figures published last week suggested that the rollout, which aims to deliver internet speeds of 24Mbps or faster to those properties not covered by existing commercial networks, is on track to take superfast access to 95% of the UK by 2017.

The government said more than four out of five UK homes and businesses already have access to superfast speeds, and that the rollout is reaching an additional 40,000 premises each week.

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