London has been criticised in a new report for poor broadband speeds that leave the British capital lagging far behind other world-leading cities.
A study conducted by the London Assembly Regeneration Committee noted the city ranks 24th out of 33 capital cities for average download speeds, and just 30th out of 63 cities across the UK for high-speed broadband coverage.
Overall, the London Buffering report found residents are "poorly served" by a landscape riddled with 'not-spots' and 'digital deserts'. This is largely the result of a lack of full fibre connectivity and a reliance on copper cables that in some places - such as Rotherhithe, in Southwark - still follow old street plans that date back to Victorian times.
It stated just three per cent of the capital's buildings are connected to full fibre broadband, with the vast majority of fibre connections using fibre-to-the-cabinet technology, which still uses copper wires to get data over the 'last mile' between homes and the street exchange.
By comparison, 83 per cent of premises in Spain are connected to full fibre, whereas in competitor cities such as Paris and New York, there are substantial full fibre investment programmes underway that far outstrip efforts in London.
London Assembly member Navin Shah, chair of the Regeneration Committee, said: "London's digital connectivity is frankly embarrassing in some areas and will no doubt lead to major issues in terms of London’s global attractiveness as a place to live, work and do business."
He added action must be taken before London's success as a global city is threatened, and welcomed the imminent appointment of a chief digital officer (CDO) by the mayor's office, which should provide real leadership in this area.
The report made a number of recommendations for the incoming CDO, such as making it easier for Londoners - especially those living in rented accommodation - to make well-informed decisions about their broadband needs. At present, there is little reliable information about connectivity available before people move into an area.
It also said the CDO should encourage boroughs to produce local connectivity plans to ensure sufficient access to a minimum level of broadband service, and push Transport for London to grant providers access to the ducts they own, so they can use existing networks to boost access to high-speed services.