Just a few weeks ago Fluidata reported on news that telecommunications provider Virgin Media is planning on installing billions of pounds worth of infrastructure across the UK. Unfortunately for those that suffer from rural broadband issues, Virgin are planning on installing most of this new technology in urban areas such as London, which many feel is unfair.
However, the truth is that even in London there is a digital divide, as highlighted by recent research conducted by Startups.co.uk. The company published the average broadband speeds for each London borough as well as the amount of new businesses that have started and closed in each area over the past few years. Surprisingly, some of the most affluent constituencies in London suffer from slow broadband speeds, such as Kensington and Chelsea where the average speed is just 22Mb/s.
There are those that may not be too surprised to hear that certain parts of London are under-serviced when it comes to Internet connectivity, as recently it has been announced that London has the slowest average broadband speeds in the UK and is ranked 26th in the whole of Europe. Discussing the issue, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "State aid rules ensure government only builds network where the commercial sector won't go and BT, Virgin and others have already announced plans for commercial rollout in cities - including a £50m investment from BT.
"We are already reviewing what we can do for residents in those areas the market won't reach as part of our commitment to take superfast broadband to the final five per cent... In order to drive the economy we have already seen over 8,000 businesses in UK cities benefit from faster and better broadband as part of our successful connection voucher scheme."
The House of Lords was the commissioning body behind the 144-page report which revealed that broadband speeds in London are falling far behind those in other countries such as Spain and Iceland. Committee chair Baroness Morgan said: “We saw and heard lots of evidence of great entrepreneurship and creativity in London.
“But we also heard that there is a danger that London is not keeping up with its international competitors. We believe that the Internet is important to our future economic success as electricity was in the past. And that means superfast broadband too. So this is a call to action to the new government in May.”
In the report it stated: “With an average speed of 25.44 megabits per second (Mb/s), London’s score contrasted drastically with Bucharest, which had average speeds of 80.14Mb/s. The data showed London had a speed more than 10Mb/s slower than the European average of 36.4Mb/s.” With the average European broadband speed being 36.4Mb/s, information provided by Startups.co.uk reveals that every single London borough is below average.
The borough of Haringey has the lowest average broadband speed at just 21Mb/s, while the City of London and Greenwich top the list with less than impressive average speeds of 35Mb/s. Startups.co.uk also provided information on how many small businesses there were in each borough during 2014, and unsurprisingly those with the highest figures tended to be in areas with faster broadband connections such as the City of London (2,420 with speeds of 35Mb/s) and Camden (2,425 with speeds of 32.9Mb/s).
Here at Fluidata we have often discussed the digital divide both on a global scale and here in the UK, however it seems as though London is a microcosm of its own with just as troubling issues. To make matters worse, even areas that have the higher than average broadband speeds are still suffering from the digital divide as large parts of inner city London – including the City of London – have thousands of premises that are unable to connect to superfast broadband.
Infrastructure, education and government support will all be required in order to resolve the digital divide in London and the rest of the UK. This recent data should remind individuals and SMEs that even if you are based in a city such as London that does not guarantee access to superfast broadband, which is why it is essential that you investigate any potential issues in your area as soon as possible.