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Ellen Forster

Westminster City Council demands better broadband for businesses

Westminster City Council is calling on broadband providers to do more for SMEs, after figures reveal that only 47% of the city’s premises have access to superfast broadband.

Areas in central London where coverage for small firms and residents is especially poor are Whitehall, Mayfair and Soho – home to over 98% of the UK’s visual effects firms and the densest concentration of ICT and software companies of any area in Europe.

A list of the top 50 world cities for superfast connectivity does not include a single city in the UK, indicating how far the UK lags behind other countries which have invested in fibre optic communications direct to the premises.

Cllr Ian Adams, chair of the Environment Policy and Scrutiny Committee, said: “The City of Westminster is home to almost 50,000 businesses which contribute around £55billion to the UK economy. Businesses in the West End alone generate £43billion and employ over 600,000 people.

“65% of the businesses in Westminster are SMEs, which make a vital contribution to the health and prosperity of the city. High-speed digital communications are the lifeblood of these firms – without them, they risk falling behind.

“The purpose of this roundtable is to establish why superfast broadband coverage in the city is so low and to discuss ways in which we can work with providers to ensure the situation improves. For the sake of UK PLC, we cannot afford to let a lack of broadband connectivity threaten the ability of businesses in the city to stay competitive in the global market.

“We need to bring broadband coverage in Westminster up to speed.”

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