Next steps for London First’s Gigabit Connectivity Network
The Gigabit Connectivity Network for London met again on 2nd December. At this summer’s launch of the Network – which brought together operators and key public sector stakeholders with the purpose of promoting the faster rollout of full fibre and 5G – discussion centred on how the pandemic had slowed the rollout of digital infrastructure deployment across the capital. There was also a focus on the problems faced by some of London’s residents who live in digitally deprived neighbourhoods.
The latest meeting heard from Sara Kelly, Head of the GLA’s Connected London Team, about some of the measures being taken to speed up deployment of full fibre and 5G and promote digital inclusion. This includes the creation of a programme of workshops with boroughs and operators on topics such as how to communicate the benefits of 5G to the public and how to generate more private investment into digital connectivity.
Many local authorities are playing an important role, too. For example:
Westminster City Council is conducting work to map so-called “not-spots” in their borough and working with partners to create new digital ambassadors
Southwark has been conducting its own programme to educate the public and its councillors on 5G rollout. The borough will now be seeking to build on its success of connecting 41,000 local authority properties to full fibre
The West London Alliance is preparing plans to make the Heathrow area a business innovation hub by developing a “Build and Recovery Plan”
Working with the GLA and local boroughs, the London Office of Technology and Innovation is preparing to publish a library of best practice on digital inclusion
All eyes are now on achieving the Mayor of London and LondonCouncils’ digital mission for London. The London Recovery Board is taking a missions based approach to recovery from the pandemic, and the digital mission currently aims for “every Londoner to have access to good connectivity, basic digital skills and the device or support they need to be online by 2025”. Over the coming weeks, London First will discuss with the GLA and London Councils how our Network can support achieving this critical ambition.
The next meeting is likely to be held early next year, and we expect the soon-to-be appointed sub-regional digital champions to be in attendance.