We’re switching on the superfast Square Mile and connecting the City to the future

 
Catherine McGuinness
BRITAIN-POLITICS-EU-BREXIT
This is is one of the largest investments in wireless infrastructure ever seen in London (Source: Getty)

We’ve all been there before, when our internet connection drops out or is constantly buffering.

That is why it is hardly surprising that London ranks twenty-sixth out of 33 European capitals in terms of broadband speed.

Two decades ago, in 1997, wifi was invented and first released for consumers at a speed of two megabits per second (Mbps).

Read more: City set for buffer-beating free wifi – and it'll be the UK's fastest

The government recently recommended a minimum broadband speed of 10 Mbps for every home and business to enable people to embrace the digital society.

Last week, the City of London Corporation announced the launch of a free wifi network offering unparalleled individual user speeds, ranging from 50 to 180 Mbps across the Square Mile.

These speeds may seem a bit abstract, but what we do know is that digital connectivity is a key part of today’s business, education, cyber security, logistics, and economic environment.

Research has shown that innovation is not only getting harder to achieve, but is costing a great deal more money. It is encouraging to see the City’s occupier base diversify and a new wave of SMEs and technology, media, and telecoms companies, attracted by London’s world-leading connectivity. However we need to make sure that this innovation is future-proofed.

This is why the multi-million pound investment into our digital offer is one of the largest investments in wireless infrastructure ever seen in London.

City businesses and visitors won’t be the only users to benefit. In February, we announced that 7,500 residents of the 12 central London housing estates run by the City Corporation will see an upgrade to fibre optic broadband and new high-speed internet service of up to one gigabit per second.

This will reach across housing estates in seven London boroughs, including Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets.

So what’s next?

Expected to be rolled out by 2021, 5G is the next generation in mobile standards. In April, we agreed a 15-year contract to pave the way for the easier adoption of this technology.

As the first borough able to commit to such a comprehensive deployment of “small cells” – transmitters capable of boosting mobile capacity – we are at the forefront of delivering cutting edge digital infrastructure.

By working closely with planners and highways officers, we have been able to set up an effective, streamlined process, reducing any unnecessary red tape to enable a fast roll-out. It is imperative that other London boroughs and UK councils work with industry to achieve this.

We have already begun to install over 400 small cells with our partner CTIL, which will be completed by spring 2019, meaning that when 5G is “switched on” in the UK, the City of London will be ready. With 20 of these small cells already operational in the City, we are well positioned to offer a 5G trial at Guildhall and these discussions are taking place now.

As a leading business and professional services district, we want to give people easy access to the skills they need to keep up and get ahead in the changing digital age. The message is simple: connectivity is good for business and people alike.

Read more: Digital London: How we can remain a capital of innovation

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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