Technology, Top News

London has a broadband problem and something needs to change

EVERY DAY I’M PISSED OFF. That’s probably the case with a lot of snarky tech journalists, Londoners, and people with not quire enough money, of which I’m all three.

But the real reason for my daily irritation is not my own bleak, world-weary reflection staring back at me with muddy brown eyes hollow of emotion and hope, but my shoddy broadband connection.

For context, I’m lucky enough to own a rather tatty but structurally sound one bed flat in East London’s Leytonstone, one of those classically up and coming areas in which the clientele of the local boozer becomes slightly more ‘middle-class young professional’ with every passing year, and there’s a selection of craft beer with creative names like ‘Nun’s flaps’.

It’s just about affordable for a London borough, but you still need to be mortgaged up to the hilt unless you’ve made a killing on Bitcoin trades, knocked off a wealthy relative, or decided to pursue a career that actually leaves you with a few pennies in the bank at the end of the month.

So the least I’d expect is fibre broadband, especially as I live right on the area’s high street. But nope, superfast broadband is denied from me, despite there being a fibre spot a hundred meters or so away.

In fact, simply fast broadband isn’t available to me either; I have to make do with an ADSL connection with a mere 5MB bandwidth. At best I might get close to 6MB or 7MB, but that’s about it.

And at around 5pm the speed starts to slow, thanks to people coming home for work and logging onto their Facebooks, Twitches, or some other time wasting service.

Despite my mildly fancy-sounding title, I’m actually a freelancer, so I mostly work from home, and really could do with a nippy fibre connection to make uploading articles for you, dear readers, to pick apart and tell me I’m an idiot in no uncertain terms in the comments.

With my current connection, I can just about get by. But I also have a 4K TV which I’ve maybe only once seen hit its native resolution because my broadband lacks the bandwidth to stream 4K videos from YouTube or Amazon Prime Video.

And when it comes to downloading large files, films, games – or playing the latter online – I need to channel a saint’s patience that I simply don’t have. I’m currently downloading God of War and my PlayStation 4 has informed me it’ll take somewhere in the region of 24 hours to download the full 45GB. Quite depressing, really.

I find it all pretty unacceptable, especially for a tech nerd who’s job is reliant on the internet. But can I do anything about it? Hardly.

Despite my London address, fibre rollout is still rather slow and because my flat is in a close of leasehold buildings, fibre providers can’t simply yank a cable from the nearest fibre box up to the building. Instead, they need to seek permission from the landlord and the property engagement firm; if you know anything about such people, you’ll realise they probably don’t give a hoot about resident’s connectivity or in some cases well-being, providing the ground rents and service charges are paid.

All this means that while fibre broadband is tantalisingly close, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get it at my flat. Sure, all the owners/tenants could band together and demand it from the landlord firm, but the only time Londoners show that kind of solidarity is in the wake of a disaster, terrorist attack, or missing bin collection.

So while the government promises to get rid of superfast not-spots, I’m mostly resigned to the idea that I won’t ever enjoy the connection speed many of you are rolling in thanks to stupid property situations in the capital, despite the fact that one pays through the nose for a place to live.

Something really needs to change, as I’m sure that in crowded cities like London where the transport infrastructure seems pushed to the limit every year, more people will need to work from home. Yet, without decent broadband, this will be very difficult.

And given a swath of tories are pro-landlord or busy borking the nation with Brexit, I doubt our leaders will pull their fingers out to breakdown these broadband blockages. But you can bet your bottom dollar that some up-and-coming minister will spout about how great London’s tech sector is, glossing over connectivity problems in the city that are far worse than mine.

Oh and before you comment, yes I know it’s a first world problem. But if you have any suggestions please get in touch, just don’t drop me an email as a carrier pigeon is probably faster. µ

Source : Inquirer

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Professional Hackers India'. Technology Evangelist, Security Analyst, Cyber Security Expert, PHP Developer and Part time hacker.

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