Is London hindered by poor infrastructure?
Broadband speeds and the poor infrastructure in London have become a regular feature of newspapers and online news for sometime now, and campaigners for faster broadband in the cities are possibly heading for a clash for rural campaigners who are still complaining of the digital divide and demanding equal access for businesses in rural areas.
Hyperoptic has waded into the political battle after looking at the Ookla netindex statistics which list London in lowly 26th place out of 33 for European capitals and claiming that London is 10 Mbps slower than the European average of 36.8 Mbps. Bucharest tops the chart currently at 81.2 Mbps for the current December figure, though had dipped in the middle of the year to 68 Mbps in June 2014.
"The UK government has recognised that there is a clear need for speed, which is why back in 2012 it pledged to have the fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015.
These figures demonstrate that the UK is a long way from that target. London has long been recognised as a powerhouse of the UK’s digital economy – after all, the capital houses a vibrant tech community and contributes nearly a quarter of the UK’s overall economic output – but its broadband infrastructure clearly isn’t fit for task, let alone the rest of the UK.
If the UK wants to maintain its digital leadership there must be a fundamental shift in its urban broadband strategy. The government must incentivise the private sector to fast track the implementation of future-proofed Fibre-to-the-Building and Fibre-to-the Home infrastructure across all UK cities and towns.
Global Internet traffic is doubling every two to three years; slow incremental rises are not enough to support a sector that is digitising industries and redefining itself on a daily basis.Boris Ivanovic, Chairman of Hyperoptic
It is likely that the politicians will answer with the detail on the ConnectedCities voucher scheme that allows SME business to subsidise the cost of much faster connectivity and it is also worth actually looking at our own broadband speed test data for London in just November 2014.
We often publish median speeds, since the median speed represents the speed that half the people can get, but to allow for comparison with other services we have published the mean download figures, and this shows that where you locate yourself in London is a major factor. The fact that much higher speeds are available in certain areas, and even Gigabit if you pick an office where someone like Hyperoptic is available but we see everyone complaining about the City of London (more businesses than residents - around 4500 residents) suggests that broadband may not be so essential to force firms to move office. Once businesses start to do that and landlords see rents going down this will make them wake-up to the need for faster broadband.
With speeds so low compared to other capitals it is easy to say the problem is one of availability, and while there is a general co-relation we are constantly seeing people opt for longer download times to save £10 to £20 per month and very little evidence to suggest the SME sector is much different.
The twenty areas of the UK with the highest levels of access to superfast broadband (and we mean premises able to get 30 Mbps or faster, not just order FTTC) are in descending order: Enfield, Havering, Kingston upon Thames, Oldham District, Harrow, Barking and Dagenham, Luton, Ealing, Sutton, Reading, Southend-on-Sea, Bracknell Forest, Hackney, Barnet, Slough, Hillingdon, Surrey County, Trafford District, Bournemouth. The coverage at superfast speeds is above 90% for these twenty areas, so the fact that the means are not even higher demonstrates that people and small business are lagging in the rate they are signing up, or choosing the up to 38 Mbps options, rather than up to 76 Mbps from Openreach based solutions or the Gigabit from Hyperoptic or 152 Mbps option from Virgin Media.
Our message is that if broadband faster than is available to you now as a business is critical to your business then its time to re-locate to one of the places with better broadband.