Fibre Optic Broadband

MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Question By: 
Victoria Borwick
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Many residents and businesses say that they are constantly promised that their internet speeds will be increased, but in fact there has been very little progress. Can the Mayor therefore give a borough by borough update on what is happening with the installation of fibre optic broadband in London?


Answer for Fibre Optic Broadband

Answer for Fibre Optic Broadband

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks, Victoria.  We are giving boroughs updates on what is happening with the installation of fibre optic broadband, although you will appreciate fibre optic is not the only way of getting broadband; there are all sorts of ways in which people can now access data very fast.  As demand changes, the supply changes the whole time.  People endlessly want more data faster, they want movies, they want all sorts of things, faster and faster, more and more of it, and we have to run to keep up and you would expect that.

London is now equipped with a connectivity map on the GLA website and you can see where all the hotspots and the not-spots are.  That is helping to drive up improvements in performance and showing people where there are market failures and where the connectivity problems can be addressed.  There is a connectivity ratings scheme so that the ice cream thing - the cone with the bars - is going to be used by estate agents and property companies to indicate whether a building, residential or commercial, has a good broadband connection.  We are regularly now holding connectivity summits to bring together the boroughs and all the other players, the broadband companies, to try to bang heads together and get more progress.

London’s supply of broadband has been something of a real concern to me and to many.  We are getting better but there are still areas where we need to move faster. 

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  Thank you very much indeed.  Yes, Mr Mayor, I certainly welcome your detailed map of the black spots because you have to appreciate that certainly, I believe, it is in the city where less than 1% have access to high speed internet.  There seems to be some sort of preferential treatment here as the people in Hillingdon seem to be doing rather well, but never mind.  The point is that all of London should be doing better. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Nothing is too good for Hillingdon, nor indeed the rest of London. 

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  What I am lobbying you for is to use the good offices here.  I am sure all my colleagues around this horseshoe will also say how their residents will have written in to complain about the fact that we seem to be lagging behind in London and it is ridiculous that Openreach, which lays the cables, has failed us in London.  Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are stuck with internet technology that is over a decade old and so we certainly need your map in order that we can all around this horseshoe lobby for better speeds for London.

My colleague Andrew Boff AM in the past has highlighted the need for people who want to work from home and for people who run small businesses and entrepreneurs who work from home - we are after all a country of small businesses - do need the opportunity of having better internet and fibre access.  It is not about watching catch-up TV online: it is people’s livelihoods, it is small businesses, and so I would urge you to use your good offices to continue, please, with those meetings in order that we can drive through for the benefit of London as a whole. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Do not forget that, as I am sure you know, there is already a connectivity voucher scheme for small businesses across the capital and 9,000 of them have taken that up so far. 

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  Excellent, but it is not just the voucher; it is the fact that we need the cables and the fibre in the ground. 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  We need the infrastructure. 

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  I am sure we all receive letters saying that actually Londoners should not be playing catch-up. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, obviously.  The benefit of the voucher is it gives the providers a market and they are able to make the investment and the connections that you want.  One of the difficulties about Openreach and fibre optics is of course that it does involve excavation and adds to roadworks, which is something that we all want to diminish if we possibly can. 

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  It is both the access to the boxes and to the cables and to people’s properties.  Certainly, we hope that modern technology will resolve that, but thank you for your assurance that you will continue to lobby on behalf of London.  Thank you.