Addressing London’s slow and no digital infrastructure gaps

This guest blog is written by Sarah Murray, Director of Local London, and Matthew Hamilton, Director of South London Partnership.

With recent press announcements about Project Gigabit, the government’s £5 billion programme to help communities (mostly rural) access fast gigabit-capable broadband, it seems apt to share what is happening in London.

Contrary to perception, slow digital connectivity affects hundreds of thousands of addresses in London. 

In fact, there are over 150,000 premises in south and east London do not have access to high speed – Gigabit capable – internet connections, according to Ofcom’s most recent Connected Nations annual survey

While there is broad agreement that widely available, easily accessible digital connectivity is essential for people, public services, businesses and growth, there are still parts of London that suffer from a lack of commercial investment in digital infrastructure. 

In the same way it does in other parts of the UK, this results in gaps in internet coverage or ‘not spots’ that impede the lives of people and businesses in this great city.

Unlocking future-fit digital connectivity in London

 To address these gaps and drive up the quality and accessibility of the services that are already available, the Mayor of London’s Infrastructure Coordination Service has commissioned a pilot across two of London sub-regions: Local London and South London Partnership. 

These are sub-regions in London with an estimated combined population of 3.8 million and massive growth potential. Future-fit digital connections are fundamental to this potential being fully realised and successful long-term. 

Neither a blanket pan-London nor individual borough would work to understand and address these issues. Commercial suppliers are willing to work with boroughs, but they need join-up within borough departments and across borough boundaries to identify the sites and scale of opportunities.   

Our teams have produced a Sub-regional Digital Infrastructure Strategy for supporting our public sector colleagues to address connectivity gaps identified in the 14 south and east London boroughs we represent. 

Our ‘Sub-regional Digital Infrastructure Strategy’ provides a compelling argument for actively pursuing digital investment along with step-by-step guidance to public sector officers to attract investment and promote better quality and more accessible services, including:

  • Map and statistics illustrating clearly where poor digital infrastructure issues lie.
  • Recommendations for public sector resourcing and roles, industry engagement, procurement options and commercial models, and key components of a successful delivery strategy.
  • Case studies and examples from across the UK demonstrating successful ways of working and benefits gained.
  • The strategic, commercial, financial, management case and options analysis.

The ‘Sub-regional Digital Infrastructure Strategy’ sits alongside an interactive mapping tool and an online digital toolkit to assist borough officers to deliver digital infrastructure to their sites and leverage additional commercial digital infrastructure investment.

Piloting a London-wide approach

For now, the Strategy and Toolkit have been developed for the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Bromley, Enfield, Greenwich, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Croydon, Kingston-upon-Thames, Merton, Richmond-upon-Thames and Sutton Councils. 

We have engaged with the leaders and digital officers in these boroughs to develop the Strategy and Toolkit and will be working alongside them to support our sub-regions to unlock their full digital potential for the benefit of people and businesses here.

Should this approach prove successful, the GLA Infrastructure Coordination Service may look at extending this more widely across London.

If you would like to discuss digital infrastructure investment opportunities or would like to be connected with the right contacts, please get in touch with Stacey McAdie at South London Partnership or Robin Bosworth at Local London

To find out more about visit:

Sarah Murray

Matthew Hamilton
25 March 2024 ·
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