Mayor of London launches major drive to boost connectivity in capital
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is today (Wednesday, June 17) launching two initiatives to help make the capital the best connected city in Europe and boost affordable access to superfast connections for homes and small businesses.
London Technology Week is currently shining a light on the city’s burgeoning tech sector. However, while the city leads Europe in much of its broadband connectivity, some parts of the capital are not able to access the broadband they demand without installing a dedicated leased line, which can be very expensive.
In order to boost connectivity across the capital and create transparency about broadband infrastructure, the Mayor revealed that companies and property owners can now register their interest to be part of London’s first ever Connectivity Ratings Scheme. This will provide tech companies and small businesses with an easy way to identify buildings that meet their connectivity needs and will incentivise landlords to improve the connectivity of their properties prior to tenants moving in.
Today also marks the launch of London’s first ever interactive Connectivity Map. As well as being able to see connectivity in their area, this will allow residents and businesses to register their interest for faster broadband services. The map will show demand from residents and businesses and enable the capital’s 500 broadband providers to see where there is demand, as well as encourage new providers to target under-served areas. When providers deliver new superfast services to an area, people who have opted in will receive an alert that new services are available.
Both of these initiatives go live as the Mayor’s Office hosts the capital’s second Connectivity Summit with London’s largest internet providers to discuss how to improve connectivity.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The incredible excitement generated by London Technology Week is proving once-and-for-all that there is very little to match our great city when it comes to tech innovation, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. By working to deliver world class affordable connectivity for everyone we are ensuring that London has the digital infrastructure in place to stay ahead of our competitors, allowing our tech sector to remain a crucial generator of jobs and growth.”
The Connectivity Ratings Scheme will be delivered by WiredScore who already operate similar programmes in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. The Mayor has contributed £50,000 towards the scheme through the London Enterprise Panel. It will allow property managers to receive a technical assessment by an engineer into the connectivity in their buildings. They will then advise on improvements and provide either a gold, silver or bronze rating. The rating will be listed on a searchable property directory.
This will inform tech companies and small businesses about the connectivity levels of buildings they are considering occupying before they agree to take out a lease.
Arie Barendrecht, CEO and Co-Founder, WiredScore said: “The Mayor of London has done an incredible job of encouraging London’s growth as a global hub of technology and innovation, and it's clear that upgrading telecommunications infrastructure and evolving into a truly connected city is the key to staying globally competitive. This announcement showcases the ability of government – and the power of public-private partnerships – to empower Londoners to build their own digital future in the technology economy. With this new initiative, we’re making a targeted investment to improve London’s broadband infrastructure and expand high-speed Internet access in office buildings.”
Attending today’s summit is Anthony Impey of Optimity, a company based in Tech City that supplies ultrafast broadband connections using a pioneering wireless technology that avoids the need for fibre. This makes dramatically faster to get connected and at a lower cost, even in areas of London that others struggle to reach.
Anthony Impey said: “Although London is home to some of the most exciting and innovative tech companies and arguably at the centre of the digital revolution, its broadband infrastructure needs to be improved. The Mayor’s response recognises the huge impact that this has on the ability to do business in London. Publishing data about the performance of broadband across different parts of the Capital and in individual buildings will enable businesses to make informed decisions about where they should locate. This will stimulate the construction of new infrastructure capable of transforming London into a ‘gigabit city’, where universal ultra-fast broadband is available in every building- an ambition that London needs if it is to remain the best city in the world!”
Jorge Fernandes, Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone UK said: “We recognise the importance of London to the country and as a primary destination for overseas visitors, which is why we are currently spending around £200 million in our network in the city. Through the deployment of the latest technology, extension of our superior spectrum as well as building hundreds of new sites, more than 99 per cent of Londoners are now able to get unbeatable outdoor and indoor mobile coverage in the busiest places at the busiest times. Our ongoing relationship with the Mayor’s office has helped us secure a number of key strategic sites across London, meaning that we are on track to deliver a truly world class network for our customers who live, work and visit the capital.”
Notes to editors:
London Technology Week is one of the largest collections of tech events ever seen in Europe. Comprising more than 200 events, it provides an opportunity for London to showcase its technology credentials on the world stage and cement its position as a place where the world’s leading companies want to do business.
To find out how to register a building for the Connectivity Rating Scheme visit http://wiredscore.london
To access the capital’s first ever Connectivity Map visit http://www.london.gov.uk/connectivity
London Infrastructure Plan
The London Infrastructure Plan sets the infrastructure that the Mayor believes the city will require over the next half century.
The London Infrastructure Plan discusses how the city can better embrace existing leading technology, be open yet realistic about the potential of future technology, and suggests how we might better hardwire innovation into our approach to the city’s development.
In addition to establishing a connectivity advisory group and a connectivity rating scheme it also calls for more flexible planning to improve conditions for the roll out of faster broadband across the city using powers set out in the London Plan
It also champions the use of more effective methods of laying broadband, such as microtrenching and lobbying to bring planning applications for communications infrastructure within the Mayor’s strategic responsibility, with the ability to take them over for his own determination as a means of last resort.
The London Infrastructure Plan can be accessed here - https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/business-economy/vision-and-strategy/infrastructure-plan-2050
Connectivity Advisory Group
The Mayor has also established a Connectivity Advisory Group to work in conjunction with the London Infrastructure Delivery Board. The Connectivity Advisory Group has the following objectives:
· To work in partnership with providers to tackle the challenge of ubiquitous and affordable connectivity coverage
· To take forward a city-wide mapping (including underground) exercise to ascertain existing levels of high speed broadband accessibility and identify the barriers to provision in ‘not-spots’
· To develop a profile of business and consumer communities and their potential communication infrastructure needs; consider ways to aggregate demand; and explore ways to encourage the take up superfast broadband
· To advise on and assist with the delivery of the Mayor’s Digital Inclusion Plan, due to be published in Autumn 2014.
· To develop a strategy for better utilising existing infrastructure to deliver improved availability and connection speeds.
Transport for London (TfL) is also focused on utilising its own network to provide connectivity. Through it’s partnership with Virgin Media at over 150 stations, over one million people are now connected online Underground. All Tube passengers can keep up-to-date with TfL travel information and quality London entertainment and news for free through Virgin Media’s WiFi portal.