Sadiq Khan made eliminating connectivity “not spots” a key pledge when he stood to be the mayor of London last year.
Today, as he appointed a team to deliver the promise, he said that improving the city’s broadband infrastructure would be key to its future as a tech hub.
“If we are to remain competitive in the global economy, we need to ensure every Londoner is able to access a fast and reliable digital connection,” he warned.
The “not spot team” includes a policy officer, connectivity officer and outreach advisor who will work with boroughs and providers to address the isssue.
Rotherhithe, parts of Westminster and the City of London were singled out in the announcement as areas with particularly poor connections.
The London Assembly Regeneration Committee published a report last month that found the city is poorly served in terms of digital connections, suffering from several “not spots” and “digital deserts”.
One of the report’s recommendation is that the next London Plan should encourage councils to ensure a minimum broadband service. “Applications for new developments should provide upgrades to connectivity to meet what is outlined in local plans,” the authors said.
But the economy isn’t the only reason Khan is keen to improve the capital’s digital connections. Speaking at a tech event last month, the mayor said faster broadband could help address another of his key pledges: reducing air pollution.
“The air in London is a problem for people; it’s a killer,” said Khan. “Does tech provide a solution? […] If we treated ultrafast broadband as a central part of utilities, more people could work from home.”
He says the redistribution would alleviate rush-hour traffic: “When it comes to the London Plan – where people live, work, play and stay – rather than everyone coming into the centre to work, we should think more holistically.”