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Westminster residents urged to sign up for fibre broadband campaign

Thursday, May 28th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Westminster City Council is urging residents and businesses to join a campaign to bring superfast broadband to the central London location.

The council is calling on broadband providers to finish their fibre networks in Westminster, bringing high-speed internet speeds to the area.

It said that although businesses can access superfast speeds using specific business lines, residents and smaller businesses, who rely on ‘residential-grade broadband’ are being left frustrated.

The council said BT Openreach is assessing the demand for superfast broadband in Westminster, and has said it will consider investing in more fibre in the area, providing there is enough demand.

To prove there is, Westminster City Council has set up a website and is urging residents and small businesses to register their interest in getting the superfast fibre broadband services that BT can provide.

Councillor Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster City Council and chairman of the West End Partnership, said: “All major cities require fast and reliable broadband to compete internationally and Westminster is no exception.”

'World class city'

She said Westminster is a hub for several industries, including media, design, digital and telecommunications, all of which rely on fast connections, but added that many could not afford ‘business-grade broadband’.

Westminster resident Angela Powell said: “London is a world class city, and it is disappointing that it is currently 26th in the league table of European capitals when it comes to broadband speeds.

"It is therefore crucial that Westminster residents have access to superfast broadband.”

The council added that while residential-grade superfast broadband is available across the vast majority of Britain and London, according to Ofcom just 47% of Westminster’s premises currently have access to superfast broadband.

This is reportedly due to the low number of residential properties in the area, and a lack of physical space to install new infrastructure.

The council said it has been working with a number of providers, including BT, Community Fibre, Hyperoptic, Relish, Venus and Virgin Media to improve broadband connections in Westminster.

'Complacent'

Earlier this year, digital minister Ed Vaizey was forced to defend the quality of broadband in London after a House of Lords’ report warned that the capital contrasted dramatically with its foreign counterparts.

Writing on a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) blog, the digital minister said the picture was “much better” than the Lords’ Digital Skills Committee had painted and pledged to work with MPs, councils and businesses to ensure London is the “world’s digital capital”.

He said that nine out of 10 London homes can get superfast broadband, and described domestic broadband prices in the UK as “among the lowest in Europe”.

Mr Vaizey wrote: “A recent report by the consultants PwC put London at the top of 30 global cities. It ranked our capital as number one for 'technology readiness' alongside Seoul in South Korea, traditionally the touchstone city for all things digital.

“Survey after survey puts the UK at the top of rankings for broadband in terms of both speed and cost."

But he said the nation “cannot be complacent” if London is to keep its place as “one of the leading cities in the world for technology” and said he would continue to work with local councils, MPs, and businesses who are frustrated with the pace of change.

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