back to article London suffers from 'sub-standard' connectivity - report

The capital has "sub-standard" broadband and 4G speeds, causing it to lag behind smaller UK cities such as York, Coventry and Edinburgh - according to a report (PDF) today by the London Assembly. Poor connectivity is threatening London's success and international competitiveness, as the capital suffers from "not spots" and " …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "claiming that average speeds were low because only one-third of people choose to take up superfast broadband"

    Or because there's fuck all of it to choose from and what we're left with is cripplingly oversubscribed due to the lines being ancient and the properties being overoccupied.

    Spent the last four years in various Zone 1/2 properties and not once has anything faster than ADSL been on offer, because everyone is crammed into flats with no choice in the matter.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      "claiming that average speeds were low because only one-third of people choose to take up superfast broadband"

      Or because

      It's probably a combination of both but looking at the UK as a whole he's probably correct.

      Availability remains an issue in some areas (both rural and urban) but lack of (or limited) interest in superfast broadband is keeping the UK average artificially low. Take up of FTTC where it is available is not universal. It's improving but I think it's still less than 50%. Even amongst those that have taken an FTTC based service most are opting for the lower speed packages. Some of that is because they are too far from the cabinet to benefit but even amongst those who would gain significantly from the top tier FTTC package only a very small number are bothering.

      The same is true with Virgin Cable. Most people opt for the slower, cheaper packages. From time to time VM has to close the bottom tier and shunt everyone up a tier (for free).

      Money talks it seems and most people with a choice seem happy with a couple of dozen Mb/s. Quite a lot still seem to be happy on a few Mb/s. The number of people that actually feel the need to go for speeds above 40Mb/s appears quite small.

      More information here.

      And here.

    2. streaky Silver badge

      This is something I've talked about before where something happens outside London and people pile in saying oh London gets all this money, in London the internet is great. It's not great. It can be great in the right circumstances.. BT et al don't give a shit though.

      because everyone is crammed into flats with no choice in the matter

      That's why you pick a block with hyperoptic installed.

      I mean don't get me started on CGNAT, but hyperoptic..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thats because in zones 1/2 BT et al have a conflict of interest. They have a lot of leased line infrastructure.

      They wouldn't want SMEs getting a cheap option now would they?

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        You can afford a zone 1 flat and are worried about the cost of Internet access?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "That's why you pick a block with hyperoptic installed."

          "You can afford a zone 1 flat and are worried about the cost of Internet access?"

          I should have been more clear. When I said there's no choice I don't mean there's no suppliers to choose from, I mean you get no choice. A huge, huge number of the people (especially young people) who live in Z1/2 (and 3-4, frankly) are living in multiple occupancy properties, usually with individual tenancy agreements. To avoid the risk of having to hunt down tenants in default for their bills these properties are invariably let with all bills included. This includes internet. This means the landlord picks the shittiest, cheapest trash they can find.

          Take a waltz through vauxhall at some point - hardly high-end residences - and set your phone away scanning. You will lose count of the number of TalkTalk networks you see. Do you think these people chose talktalk?

          1. Mayhem

            It's endemic in Zone 1. The sole provider is BT, generally only adsl services, though VDSL is sometimes available. As an example, there is no residential BT or Virgin fibre available in Soho or Mayfair. There are small pockets near Bloomsbury and Marylebone, but that's about it. 4G is frequently a joke due to reception issues and interference and microwave is astonishingly expensive.

            The reason is that this area was traditionally commercial, so if you want better-than-adsl internet you need to pay for a commercial link. None of the vendors want residential grade circuits eating into their highly lucrative commercial business.

            We have dozens of residential customers who are stuck with either ~12mb ADSL on old dodgy phonelines (one recently refitted 20 apartment building has exactly six functional pairs on a 100pr bearer) or a minimum £400/month for a 25/100 leased line, which is barely "high speed".

            Sure, if you can afford to buy a house in Mayfair, you should be able to pay that sort of rate, but most of the shoebox flats are done on the cheap so the internet provided is a phoneline if you are lucky. The best landlords bring in a proper leased line and split it among the tenants, but that is rare.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    also the average is misleading

    i live in one of the areas described in london, getting 18Mbps ( luckily not too far from the exchange ) atm but the exchange has been fibre enabled for over 6-7 years now. openretch is just sorting out the end of line connections by building a streetcab next to the exchange, needless to say they cocked that one up as well.

    lead time for the fibre was 2 weeks and the still couldnt connect it up, now its a month and still not active.

    i would love to see a spread of the connection speeds ( 1-24, 24-81, etc ) as some of the ultrafast BT or Virgin connections can skew the number. pretty sure that way the number would look even more awful.

    also openretch's excuse was "not financially viable" for not sorting out the EO connections, big words when they get paid from 2 different sources to roll out faster connections

  3. the hawk

    York was shocking until a couple of years ago

    ...but things have changed rapidly, with Sky/TalkTalk rolling out FTTP to half the city (not sure why only half), Virgin suddenly deciding to cable a load of new streets (no doubt related), and Openreach finally enabling a few cabinets for FTTC in otherwise connected areas that looked like they were forgotten. So there's hope for London, it doesn't take long to turn things around with the right motivation.

    That said, there are still lots of areas in the city where you'll have your 4Mbps DSL and you'll be grateful of that, filthy peasant that you are. So maybe I'm overly optimistic.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Logical the likes of York will be better

    You don't have to try and ram some fibre in some overfilled duct, avoiding the other 50 utility companies also digging up the road, to feed a building with 5000 occupants where the landlord is somewhere in Saudi Arabia. The same goes for 4g, you have these things called buildings getting in the way.

    In York you can probably fibre up a street in a day and whack up a mast and you cover a 10th of the city.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

      Um, I think you'll find that if you dig a hole in York you'll hit Roman remains. Then everything grinds to a halt for months.

      York's advantage is that it's all low-rise - the only exception being the Minster, so no buildings to block the 4G signal.

      Add to that the fact it's a really small city, so don't need many masts.

      Add to that, the big ugly BT building covered in masts,

      We're 15 miles east of York. Would get 4G except for the inconvenient hill behind our house. Broadband is a pretty decent 25Mbps.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

        "you'll hit Roman remains"

        Well that's one off the list of what did the Romans ever do for us. They could have at least put fibre down.

        1. Geofb

          Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

          They gave us DCCCII.XI

      2. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

        "We're 15 miles east of York"

        Hey! I am living near you then.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

          Hey! I am living near you then.

          OMG - I'm being stalked on The Register!!

          1. Yesnomaybe

            Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

            Stalking is an ugly word. I just like to look at you. When you get dressed in the morning. If you didn't want that, you'd probably close your curtains, so I take it as an implicit agreement.

    2. Simon Ward

      Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

      In York you can probably fibre up a street in a day

      You can, but it'll take the contractors about 6 weeks to clear up the fucking mess they made (eg. a twatting great big hole outside my house with bits of fibre cable and ducting sticking out of it)

      Don't ask how I know this.

      (Vermin Media have been cabling up the village, although I have zero interest in their services)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Logical the likes of York will be better

        The FTTP installer for York is CityFibre, they're also doing Edinburgh, Cambridge, and a few other places. It offers 1GB symmetric for something like 30 quid a month, but unfortunately only with TalkTalk.

        As someone said, the alternatives here are Virgin Media cable ( 200/50 Mb ) and OpenThingy ( variable ).

        There is also a public WiFi system for the city centre but those seem to be everywhere nowadays.

  5. m0rt Silver badge

    " We need to act before it’s too late and London’s success is threatened. "

    Or..how about encouraging take up outside of London? I mean North of bloody Watford!

    Still would like a reliable 3G connection north of Birmingham. Maybe one day, hey? Westminster?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: " We need to act before it’s too late and London’s success is threatened. "

      "Still would like a reliable 3G connection north of Birmingham. Maybe one day, hey? Westminster?"

      I've just spent a week in rural Shropshire running off a 4G hotspot with no trouble at all.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: " We need to act before it’s too late and London’s success is threatened. "

        Well done. So you have found a spot where 4g works. It would work for me in Stafford too. But a consistent and reliable connection across a large swarth of the Northwest? Even in 3G?

        No. It doesn't exists. I bet you say 'Works on my machine.' when someone complains of a bug in code, too.

        1. Conor Turton

          Re: " We need to act before it’s too late and London’s success is threatened. "

          Well done. So you have found a spot where 4g works. It would work for me in Stafford too. But a consistent and reliable connection across a large swarth of the Northwest? Even in 3G?

          As a truck driver I've never had an issue with any of the non-London locations you've mentioned on Three with the exception of one small stretch of the M6 near Shap where even radio stations drop out.

  6. Stumpy

    Vaizey may have a point ...

    ... when he states that only 1/3 of people elect to take up fast broadband.

    I tried for years to get FTTP since BT Fibre wasn't available (then, is now) and Sky ... well, not going there.

    I eventually managed to get the interest of Hyperoptic, but they wouldn't cable the building until there was enough interest from residents, so I started to canvass all the residents and the block management to try to get a groundswell of interest.

    Let's just say that it's taken me three years and a shitload of effort on my part to get it installed, and as far as I know, I'm the only one in the entire block that's taken up the service. Everyone else is either with Sky or BT Infinity, and that's more than good enough for them (mean speeds here on infinity are around 20MBS on a good day).

  7. wmpattison

    I was at Wembley last weekend. Failed to upload a single Facebook post over the '4G' in over 2 hours. I'll bet it's not that bad anywhere else on the planet.

    1. Spacedinvader
      Trollface

      So there are upsides!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tell me about it, I live in Brixton and I barely get 700MB per second, while my parents that live in a small village in the country side of France get more than double that.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "and I barely get 700MB per second, while my parents that live in a small village in the country side of France get more than double that."

      This "small village in France" wouldn't be a Google HQ would it?

      1400MB/s is a DVD in 4 seconds. My 150Mb is quite good around here, better than BT can offer, 80 times faster would be quite impressive.

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Either you got the units wrong on that comment or you're being insufferably smug. I'm going to err on the side of the units being wrong as if southern France can get 1.4GB/s+ then I'm going to regret my failure to pay attention to French at school

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I live in Brixton and I barely get 700MB per second

      Even on a gigabit link you'll only get about 112MB per second.

      Perhaps you mean 700KB per second, which is about 5.6 Mbps ?

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Cram more and more people into an urban area and find the infrastructure isn't catching up. It hasn't for centuries. It never does.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It never does.

      And never will. The answer to many of London's problems would be to reduce the population density, and distribute a load of the economic activity to other locations. And that needs government resolve - declaring a "Northern Powerhouse" and building a few new rail lines will mean nothing when government and business remain so London-centric.

      Instead, the London Assembly continue to rubber stamp new-build flats and monster high-rise offices, and government do nothing to decentralise their administration.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Happy

      "Cram more and more people into an urban area and find the infrastructure isn't catching up. It hasn't for centuries. It never does."

      We need another Joseph Bazalgette, but for data shit rather than shit shit.

  10. wolfetone Silver badge

    Awww, is poor London suffering from some rubbish 4G?

    Try living in Birmingham and getting reliable 3G.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You have 3g?

      Go further up north and we're still on dial up (virgin)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Dial up, you lucky, lucky bastard.

        I only get semaphore!

        Total lie, I can get 80mbs up/down on 4g and I choose to ONLY have 50mbs broadband, but can get 80. Helps living 1 minute walk from the main exchange.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Semaphore? I feel for you. We got the Clacks nowadays!

    2. Kebablog

      And my bit of Birmingham is stuck with ADSL or a piss poor Virgin Service.

  11. Halfmad

    Stop comparing to the best.

    Compare to the average across the country, that's what most of us are stuck at.

  12. Steven Jones

    London most connected city?

    Despite which, a report barely a week old describes London as the World's most connected city...

    https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/news/2017/06/london_is_the_world_s_most_connected_city_/

  13. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I work five miles from Cambridge

    And while the company has fast internet connections, I can't get a phone signal for love nor money.

  14. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Population density

    The most expensive part of the network is the last mile.

    And the reson for it is mainly population density and complexity of coordinating with the customers/victims.

    The higher the density, the cheaper it is to provide each of them with a connection, so high rises are great for telcos benefits.

    Now, as for London, the problem is oligopoly and a covert backbone monopoly, some but worse happens in New York, for example.

    So why give better options while you can charge a lot for crap DSL?

    I have cable... but only because it is less oversubscribed than DSL, I would be happy with 12/4 Mb DSL line IF it was not oversubscribed.

    Of course, that would mean paying more than a 100Mb Docsis connection.. and that makes absolute no sense.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    York's been a guinea pig city for TalkTalk's UFO gigabit project, so it can't really be used as a benchmark. Lots of homes in York now have a gigabit fibre connection.

    1. Simon Ward

      Fibre, yes.

      Gigabit fibre? Nope - UFO is/was only being trialled in some locations on the northern side of the city, and the pimps pushing the soon-to-be-built hipster flats in Stonebow House are pushing it pretty hard (but then it is literally across the road from the main exchange)

      Whilst you may be able to spit across York city centre, the 'City of York' area is rather bigger than you might think.

  16. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Myopia

    ....is the inability to see past your own nose Britain. London being the head of course.

  17. Geoff Campbell
    Facepalm

    Londoners whining about how poorly served they are?

    They could, like, move somewhere else, rather than piling up like rats in a sewer. Just a thought...

    GJC

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Coat

      Re: Londoners whining about how poorly served they are?

      Just the one Londoner in this week, then? I was expecting more :-)

      GJC

  18. carlos_c

    Lack of fttc in central london

    I have a number of clients across central london and we cannot get fttc anywhere - the exchanges are just not enabled - yet you see fttc enabled exchanges in Islington, Shoerditch etc, but not the City or Westminster.

    To get decent service SMB's have to opt for Efm or fibre - though have had some luck with Relish recently offering 40 Mb over 4g

    1. Joe Montana

      Re: Lack of fttc in central london

      London is full of very expensive premises, primarily businesses... If they can afford to have their offices there, they can afford to pay for a decent leased line. There's not a huge demand for residential connectivity.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they can afford to have their offices there, they can afford to pay for a decent leased line

    which sounds like you're saying: "there's a ton of demand for FTTC, but we are going to abuse our market position by forcing people to buy more expensive products"

    OR would probably argue it's about getting permission to put up more of the green cabinets in dense city centre areas.

  20. Dave Bell

    What do these surveys measure?

    I have my doubts about some of these surveys.

    I have been on ADSL since it was introduced in summer 2005. The speed has increased a couple of times, a change in contract details (it was throttled at first) and then a tech improvement. It's OK as a speed for a single user, and I don't feel any urge to go to FTTC. I may be moving before next summer anyway.

    This whole "up to" speed advertising thing is an illusion, but some of the surveys I have seen seem a bit vague about how they compare fibre and ADSL. Also, I think my connection would be in the "up to 17Mbs" category, and that would drag down the averages even if, from distance to the exchange and the like, I would reckon my speed pretty good.

    It does sounds as if there are genuine reasons to complain about the situation in London, but the way some of this is being reported is hiding the way in which many people may be deciding that there is no point in paying for the higher speeds.

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