London must ensure it has world-beating digital connectivity in the decades ahead if it is to maintain its place at the top table of world cities.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson issued a rallying cry to the capital on Wednesday when he revealed the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 consultation document, which listed broadband and 5G networks as vital to the city's future.
“Infrastructure underpins everything we do and we all use it every day. Without a long-term plan for investment and the political will to implement it this city will falter,” he said. “Londoners need to know they will get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life that they expect.”
With regards broadband, the report said firms in the telecoms industry must work together to understand areas that are underserved by broadband.
"Broadband is now considered the fourth utility. Internet access not only affects the productivity of businesses and proves essential to the future growth of many firms, it is also vital for many residents to take part in modern society (as more services
move online)," the document reads.
To improve this situation Johnson wants to create a connectivity advisory group to undertake a range of work including a connectivity rating system for properties and bringing planning applications for telecoms projects within the mayor’s responsibility.
The presentation of the report also includes a reference to 5G, explaining that Johnson wants London to have almost ubiquitous high-speed connectivity.
“It is vital for London’s economy to have high-speed connectivity, from mobile and fixed devices, with 99-100 percent coverage. London to be the first capital
in the world to deploy 5G,” the report reads.
The document says that the mayor hopes to have 5G live by 2020, by working alongside Ofcom to identify spectrum that could be used for this aim.
This ambitious goal was welcomed by Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of the Centre for Communication Systems Research at the University of Surrey, which was given a £35m 5G research grant last year.
"London should be the first capital city in the advanced economy countries to deploy 5G broadband network to alleviate expected capacity crunch by 2020s. This will give the sensation of infinite capacity," he said.
The report also sees a future for driverless cars in the capital in the future, a timely notion given the government's plans to allow such vehicles on the roads from 2015.
"The technology for autonomous vehicles already exists. Adopted more widely as standard, car safety would improve dramatically, and in the longer run autonomous vehicles offer the potential for making better use of road space, reducing costs and increasing the efficiency of goods distribution," the report reads.
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