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Digital Infrastructure

Executive Summary


In 2019, with backing from the Mayor of London Infrastructure Group (LIG), the Mayor established the Mayor’s Infrastructure Coordination Service (ICS) at the Greater London Authority (GLA) to support better planning and delivery of infrastructure across London.

The ICS has commissioned this pilot strategy study across boroughs within the South London Partnership (SLP) and Local London (LL) sub-regions to better understand the use case of sub-regional scale digital infrastructure planning, and how such a model can apply across London. This pilot will serve to build a more granular understanding of the barriers to investment, the implications of poor digital connectivity on the economies of north east, south east and south west London, and will inform other parts of London of steps that can be taken to close the gaps and boost investment.

Strategic Case

There is broad and proven recognition that the provision of full fibre and 5G digital infrastructure drives economic growth and enables social inclusion and cohesion. Numerous reports have identified such benefits. For example, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) stated that full fibre could provide a real boost to communities across the country and boost labour productivity by nearly £59 billion by 2025.

The delivery of London’s net zero ambitions also relies on the availability of digital infrastructure.

World class digital connectivity stimulates innovation, boosts digital service businesses and creates new business streams. London must address any shortfall in the availability of digital connectivity in the region and drive up the quality and accessibility of the services already available.

Contrary to perception, there remain parts of London that have suffered from a lack of commercial investment in digital infrastructure that consequently has resulted in underlying gaps in delivery capability.  These gaps need to be closed in order for boroughs within the Local London and the South London Partnership sub-regions to achieve their growth goals and, in particular, their Levelling Up ambitions.

At the time of writing there are over 151,000 premises in Local London and 73,000 premises in South London Partnership unable to obtain a Gigabit capable broadband service. Over 29,000 premises sit in a ‘not spot,’ unable to receive even a 30 Mbps service. Across London has a whole Building Digital UK estimate this gap in service provision to be over 600,000 premises after taking into account the existing investment plans of operators over the next 3 years.

London Plan SI6 states that ‘Development Plans should support the delivery of full-fibre or equivalent digital infrastructure, with particular focus on areas with gaps in connectivity and barriers to digital access.’ London Boroughs require a clear digital strategy and on-going regional interventions to increase the availability of full fibre to the premise in key urban areas and ensure rapid deployment of next generation wireless infrastructure to levels enjoyed in other urban areas in the UK.

Experience across London, and indeed across the UK as a whole, has shown that local authorities that are the most proactive benefit from the greatest level of inward investment.

To view the full strategy document, please click here