The days of slow downloads could be behind City residents following news the Corporation will be installing superfast broadband in its 12 central London housing estates. The Corporation’s community and children’s services committee last week greenlit plans to expand fibre optic broadband cabling in the estates, bringing speeds of up to 1 gigabit to more than 7,500 residents.
The new broadband services will be rolled out across the Corporation’s social housing estates across seven London boroughs, including Middlesex Street and Golden Lane estates in the City.
Central London has been plagued with poor broadband speeds, with the Square Mile ranking among the worst in the UK for superfast internet, according to Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2015 report. The Cities of London and Westminster had an average speed of 16.9 megabits per second (Mbps) and 78% superfast access, well below the national average of 29.4Mbps. London also ranks 26th out of 33 European capitals in terms of broadband speed.
The Corporation has emphasised the need for affordable internet services for residents of the estates, calling upon providers to include reduced payment options for those on low incomes and benefits.
Neal Hounsell, acting director of the City of London Corporation’s community and children’s services department, said: “We are responding to the need to provide faster internet access to Londoners at an affordable price.” Up to five internet providers will be invited to bid for the opportunity to connect, with installation works expected to be completed by the end of next year.
In January the Corporation announced plans to expand free Wi-Fi and improve mobile coverage across the Square Mile. The expansion will see the deployment of a new network that will replace the current free service provided by the Cloud. More than 400 ‘small cells’ will be built on street objects like lampposts and CCTV columns in the coming months to boost the strength and reliability of the current wireless coverage in the City.
Investment for the project is claimed to be the single largest in wireless infrastructure ever seen in the City of London. The Square Mile’s tall buildings and narrow streets are often blamed for unreliable mobile coverage. It is anticipated that the new infrastructure will help in easier adoption of 5G technology, scheduled for launch by the end of 2020.