City of London says a lack of affordable superfast broadband is harming the square mile as a financial centre
The City of London Corporation says a lack of affordable superfast broadband in the Square Mile is harming businesses and making the capital’s financial centre less attractive to global companies.
Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the Corporation, wrote in the City AM newspaper that there had been a “market failure” in the city which was stunting London’s growth in a similar fashion to constraints on aviation or Tube capacity.
“It is a major concern that firms in the Square Mile regularly complain that BT fails to deliver in a timely manner and provide the level of service required, notably through its decision not to roll out superfast broadband,” he wrote. “Market failure of this kind is clearly unacceptable for a world-leading global financial centre, and highlights that poor connectivity is not just an issue affecting rural areas.”
City of London broadband
Boleat said that although larger organisations could afford dedicated leased lines, these were too expensive for the 13,000 SMBs and 9,000 residents in the City, who were forced to take slower copper broadband instead.
He argued that Scandinavia and Asia have better broadband coverage than the UK and that although the £3,000 vouchers that are available to SMBs as part of the government’s superconnected cities schemes were a start, more must be done to ensure the city was not left behind.
The Corporation says it is working on a strategy to ensure that there is fast, affordable wired and wireless communications available within the City and adds that regulators, the government and ISPs should be doing the same. It is inviting local businesses to say what their connectivity demands are as part of this strategy.
“The Square Mile is home to innovative global businesses and provides the market drivers for many fast-growing firms in other sectors, including the neighbouring Tech City. If London is to continue delivering the innovative new products and services that will keep us at the cutting edge, we cannot afford to be left lagging behind our rivals in the slow lane of the broadband superhighway.”
Not just a rural issue
The government has allocated £530 million to local authorities as part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative, which aims to ensure 98 percent of the UK can receive superfast broadband by 2018. BT has won all of the public money available under the scheme, and connected more than half a million homes that are not covered by the company’s multi-billion pound commercial rollout of fibre.
The former state monopoly has defended its service offering in the City, claiming it is tailored to suit the needs of businesses.
“As the Corporation of London say themselves, businesses throughout the Square Mile can access superfast services on dedicated lines specifically designed for companies,” a spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “These are normally the most appropriate services for businesses, given their demands are typically very different from consumers.
“We are in talks with the Corporation of London about how to increase availability of lower-priced fibre broadband – which is primarily aimed at consumers, home workers and the very smallest SMEs.”