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Digital for Londoners in KCWTODAY 12.04.16

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12 Apr 2016
Digital for Londoners by Derek Wyatt
Towards the end of November, I was late to a meeting of FISP at the Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall. I had been an invited member or “guru” as we were known by this august group of technologists with over 500 years of industry wide experience between them. FISP stands for Foundation for Information Society Policy and as I had founded the Oxford Internet Institute back in 1999-2000 and had been interested aspects of digital stretching back to 1992 I was asked to be a guru. I think that was over stating my abilities somewhat.
Anyway, the meeting was well advanced so I just piped up and wondered whether they might not look at the forthcoming mayoral candidates and ponder why none of them had come forward with a Digital for London proposition based on the Transport for London model. This seemed to take them by surprise. I had wanted DfL for over a year but had not been able to park it with a think tank. Well the Eureka moment arrived and after 20 minutes or so they agreed to establish a working party to examine it.
We held a number of meetings at the Federation for Small Businesses HQ in Victoria and with help from PLMR, a truly impressive full-on communications agency, we launched Digital for Londoners (as it had become) on 31st March 2016!
No matter what you may read from BT (OpenReach) or Virgin or hear from the likes of Ed Vaizey MP, the IT Minister, London is very poorly off with its mobile networks and its broadband for businesses and homes. Actually we do not have broadband at all we have narrow band. What DfL wants for London is for it to be a gigabit city. Not just a small 1 gigabit city but a bloody great 20 gigabit city by 2020 (there are over 100 dotted around the world and not all of them are capital cities or rank in the top three cities in the world). Indeed there are twenty cities in the UK with plans to be a gigabit city but not alas London.  
We sent our embargoed tickler press release out to all the London television, radio, media and social networks ten days before the BIG day and then the day before our launch we sent a second embargoed but fuller release with the results of a poll we had commissioned via YouGov. We met the Treasury (we were pleasantly agreeable), we provided early sights of our work to both Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan’s teams and spoke to Ofcom on the phone.
This is what the poll said:
** one million adult Londoners were unhappy with their broadband speeds (a sixth of all adults in the capital)
** one third of all adult Londoners do not rate their broadband providers
** only a third thought that the capital was ready to meet future broadband needs
I doubt you would be surprised by the findings unless you were BT, Virgin or Boris.
We concluded: “……the poll demonstrated that the market had failed businesses and consumers when it came to providing the infrastructure needed to create high-speed, future-proofed broadband services, which are already up and running in dozens of cities around the world.”
We backed up all of assumptions with an attached fact sheet.
Well dear reader, the response was overwhelming. Not a single television or radio interview, not one mentioned in the Evening Standard and nothing on the social networks. The Centre for Cities commissioned me to write a 600 word blog and Computer Weekly accepted an article from David Brunnen, my co-conspirator.
We are down-hearted. The battle for a 20 Gigabit City has begun.
For more details go to

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