Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a host of new measures to boost London digital connectivity throughout the UK capital and to tackle areas with poor broadband coverage – the city’s so-called “not-spots”.
Khan will appoint a special “Not Spot team” of digital experts to troubleshoot parts of London where connectivity is particularly low, whilst pledging to work closely with Transport for London (TfL) to bring broadband infrastructure to the London Underground rail network.
The mayor also announced that a summit will take place at City Hall that will bring together local London authorities to support them in applying for funding from the government’s digital infrastructure investment fund.
At the Digital Connectivity Funding Forum, London’s local council representatives will also get the chance to discuss the ongoing work of the Not Spot team, and share ideas and best practices on increasing connectivity.
In a statement, Khan said: “If we are to remain competitive in the global economy, we need to ensure every Londoner is able to access a fast and reliable digital connection.
“That means working to boost connectivity across London – tackling not-spots, delivering connectivity in the London Underground and working with local authorities to provide digital infrastructure fitting of a global tech hub.”
With a fast-growing sector of more than 40,000 digital firms, employing close to 20,000 staff, London can be considered one of the world’s leading technology hubs, but many business owners remain frustrated by the lack of connectivity in some areas.
Khan identified Rotherhithe, close to London Bridge, as an area where poor London digital connectivity was a particular concern to businesses and homeowners, as well as the City of London and parts of Westminster.
The London Underground – currently one of the biggest not spots in the country – will also be afforded close attention by Khan’s Not Spot team. The mayor will aim for network-wide mobile coverage for the Underground to match the new Elizabeth Line, which will be fully connected once it opens across central London in December 2018.
Welcoming the mayor’s announcement, infrastructure director at London First, a business body for the UK capital, David Leam, said: “We should be making the most of existing infrastructure, including the London Underground network, to boost speeds and deliver coverage to areas that have been left behind.
“But we also need London’s planners to get behind this work, otherwise our digital ambitions risk being strangled by red tape.”
Khan went on to say: “London is now a leading global tech hub, with thriving startups alongside major companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.
“But our digital connectivity needs to be improved – internet connectivity is now a key public utility, and it is no surprise that some businesses see poor connectivity as a barrier to growth.”
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