Broadband News

London - digital disaster or digital powerhouse?

The woes of parts of London with respect to superfast and ultrafast broadband connectivity are well known by residents but at the policy making level things always seem to meet barriers in terms of generating a significant level of change.

London as a region is already past the 95% superfast broadband target but this is not a consistent footprint across the various parts of Greater London and not unlike some other cities once you drill into the historic center things are not so great, for example the City of Westminster down at 77.9%, though it does have well above average full fibre coverage at 9%.

A report on Digital Connectivity in London has been seen as roundly slamming the situation in London, but the picture is very variable and things are improving as evidenced by the growth in superfast coverage in places like Southwark, though for those missing out still the changes in the coverage levels will be heavily disputed. 

Map of Q1 2017 median download speeds in Central London
Click image for larger version

Median Speed Test Results in Postcode Areas in Central London Q1 2017

The above map highlights the central London postcode areas (i.e. SE1 etc) and is showing the median download speed and is a very good picture of the patchwork, a less detailed map (less detail so that it performs reasonably for those using it) showing median speeds and recent speed test results is available. There are spots of green, but even those areas hide a wide range of speeds, and looking at the actual companies delivering the fastest speeds reveals names like Venus and Hyperoptic plus some others and these are full fibre options. Hyperoptic counts in our full fibre coverage data, but Venus does not as while they endeavour to undercut traditional leased line prices their footprint does not count as premises passed by FTTP.

Map of Q1 2017 median download speeds across Greater London
Click image for larger version

Median Speed Test Results in Postcode Areas for Greater London Q1 2017

The picture when you zoom out to the wider Greater London area continues to show a patchwork, with take-up levels often being more of a hinderance to turning an area a nice green than actual availability. Is it possible that years of static wages for millions means people are watching utility bills and opting for slower broadband deals that are £5 to £10 cheaper per month, plus set-up and activation fees may be putting some off.

Map of Q1 2017 median download speeds across the United Kingdom
Click image for larger version

Median Speed Test Results in Postcode Areas in the UK Q1 2017

As for the Gigabit cities in the UK, can you spot them on this map of the median speeds for the UK? We doubt it and that is not because of the size of the map but the reality that Gigabit Cities are a marketing dream, and while York does have a good chunk of residential full fibre via CityFibre, with full fibre coverage running at 24.7% (10% Openreach, rest CityFibre) we are only seeing speed tests on full fibre for 5.8% of tests in the city in Q1/2017. So as yet people are not stampeding to rip the arm off the sales people, some are but many seem not to be.

A full fibre future is the future and its all very good producing reports and speeches on the topic, but what is needed is concrete action, such as refusing planning permission on all new builds unless full fibre connectivity is guaranteed, encouraging private landlords of existing residential and commercial premises to ensure decent connectivity is available.

What of the big bad evil empires that are BT and Virgin Media, well BT via its commercial London Extension Project (LEP) is delivering more VDSL2 and a good number of exchange only postcodes in central London are showing as in line for native FTTP, though exact timeline for any one postcode is unknown as part of the commercial expansion of their FTTP footprint. Virgin Media via its Project Lightning has been expanding particularly around East Ham.

A couple more maps we have made screen shots for cover the South East and the North West, in the North West the impact of B4RN particularly in the LA2 area where the top 10% speeds are clearly influenced by their network.

A thought for the day, if areas have decent levels of superfast coverage and ultrafast coverage and this has been in place for sometime then perhaps more effort needs to be invested in understanding why people and business are not upgrading, it may be people thought the upgrades were automatic and they are not, or not aware of the options, financial or even as its a different network landlord is refusing to allow the install. What other reasons do you think are key drivers in people not upgrading when much faster services are available?

Comments

@thinkbroadband Infrastructure being driven by minimum demand, rather than facilitating maximum potential. Disaster (all of UK).

  • @StatgeekUK
  • comment via twitter
  • 3 months ago

@thinkbroadband It does okay for ultrafast but, like many cities, is symptomatic of the outside-in approach BDUK ha… https://t.co/o11WzEqlQL

  • @ultrafastcarl
  • comment via twitter
  • 3 months ago

It only matters if the resources you are using also have fibre to deliver what you are consuming.
I have FTTC which regularly tests at above 70Mbs, yet often suffer from slow downloads, and video stutters.

  • Fellwalker
  • 3 months ago

If the connection is running and testing well, and things are buffering or slow file downloads then not a broadband issue, but an Internet one, i.e. where is data coming from, does firm have connectivity at its end in the data center to cope.

Those sort of issues will still occur on FTTP full fibre connections.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

Precisely. Like in a chain, the weakest link will always slow you down.

  • 69bertie
  • 3 months ago

In UK broadband terms, the weakest link is usually how little the subscriber is willing to pay for it.

Impossible to aim for a "maximum potential" world when most are concerned with a "minimum spend" one.

  • WWWombat
  • 3 months ago

Broadband still isnt available where i live in north devon yet I'm only a 5 minute drive from a large town. Sod ultra fast broadband in london, when will standard usable broadband be available for all. I may as well live in a third world country. Apparently fibre broadband has been connected to my local exchange a mile up the road for sometime yet I and my neighbours cant get a usable stable broadband speed above 1.5mb so no one will offer it

  • DJMDevon
  • 3 months ago

Which large town? Only one lot of the next phase not awarded yet, and that is lot 1 in North Somerset.

Devon was covered in a recent item at https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/7742-final-piece-of-connecting-devon-and-somerset-jigsaw-now-in-place with links to the lot maps

Its going to be either Airband or Gigaclear, or an unknown partner in Lot 1 (they've decided just not said who) but those are not 100% coverage contracts.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

@andrew
Back when 2 lots had not been announced, we knew that one winner needed more vetting by DCMS, and that one was subject to a legal challenge. One quasi-announcement was that Gigaclear had won 5 lots, but in the end only 4 got announced.

Given that we now know Airband won lot 4, it is a reasonable leap to assume that Gigaclear's 5th win was the North Somerset one (lot 1), and this is the one being challenged.

  • WWWombat
  • 3 months ago

@WWW - I'm guessing Truespeed have something to say about who gets Lot 1.

  • Somerset
  • 3 months ago

@Andrew
I read the article and contacted airband who are supposed to have the contract for Barnstaple area North Devon. I got this lousy reply:-

I have looked into our network coverage and we are still not ready to take order on the Wild West network.

Apologies we are not able to provide you with a service at this moment in time, once we have the go ahead from our director we will be InTouch. If you haven’t already please register your interest via our website and you will be update with all relevant details when we can roll out to your area.

I might get broadband one day!!!

  • DJMDevon
  • 3 months ago

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