Areas in inner London 'have worst broadband in UK' header image

Published: 10th Feb 2015

Inner-city areas within London have the worst access to super-fast broadband in the UK, according to government statistics.

Figures from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reveal that constituencies in England's capital and Hull will still hover at the bottom of the league tables even when a £1.7 billion investment is completed in 2017 to improve connectivity in under-served areas of Britain.

The government has explained that it will not be able to invest in the broadband infrastructure of these areas directly, blaming competition rules which supposedly prevent intervention from the state.

According to the data from the DCMS, London and Westminster will be the worst-hit areas, with only 31 per cent of premises being given access to super-fast connections, which are defined as speeds of 24 Mbps and above.

Once the rollout is completed in 2017, the bottom 20 constituencies will have a penetration rate of less than 76 per cent. Of these, 12 areas are based in the countryside and have already received government funding to boost the reach of super-fast broadband.

Three of the remaining eight constituencies with poor access to high-speed internet are in Kingston-upon-Hull, where locally-operated telecommunications firms have the monopoly and have left the government  with little power to affect infrastructure, the DCMS claims.

The final five areas, including the worst in the country, are Westminister, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Bethnal Green and Bow, Poplar and Limehouse and Westminster North - all of which are in the nation's capital.

These adjoining neighborhoods are some of the most deprived areas of inner London, but the government will not step in to help. The DCMS claims that as these places are supposedly well-served by commercial provision, it is not allowed to directly invest in improving connectivity as it is able to do in rural areas.

Instead of taking action to resolve this issue, telecommunication companies are refusing to making improvements, claiming that there are only a few residential households in these areas, meaning it would be uneconomical to invest to provide better access to super-fast broadband.

A spokesperson for the DCMS said: "State aid rules ensure the government only builds network where the commercial sector won’t go and BT, Virgin and others have already announced plans for commercial rollouts in cities - including a £50 million 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 super-fast broadband to the final five per cent."