Camden Council proposes major new initiative to enhance broadband speeds and mobile connectivity
Camden Council is today launching an initiative to radically enhance digital connectivity for businesses and residents across the borough and tackle mobile phone ‘blackspots’ and greatly improve business broadband speeds.
Camden Council, recently recognised as ‘Digital City 2015’ for its range of digital initiatives, is proposing to lease rooftop spaces on council-owned buildings to telecommunications companies to host new mobile and broadband kit. The initiative could generate much needed income of up £6 million over ten years, which is up to £600k per year to spend on services.
The plans also tackle the digital divide by providing free wi-fi access for 74 tenants’ halls on council estates, digital skills training and refurbished PCs for use by the community. This will enable tenants halls to be used for a wider range of activities, including homework clubs.
By allowing telecommunications providers to install mobile and wireless broadband masts on more than 50 council-owned buildings Camden will be able to extend previous work done to make the borough super connected for residents and businesses in the future. Camden has already provided more than 300 free PCs in libraries and free public wi-fi on high streets.
By increasing telecoms capacity and coverage in the borough Camden is also promoting economic growth and helping local businesses and services. Camden has booming professional and tech sector as well as established creative industries. Slow broadband speeds and capacity in some parts of the borough are a major challenge for the local economy.
A decision on the proposals will be made at Camden’s Cabinet Meeting on 21 October.
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet Member for Finance and Technology Policy, speaking at the launch of The Triangle Building, part of the Interchange coworking space in Camden Town, said last night (Wed 30 September):
“Businesses and residents depend on high speed, low cost internet to be competitive in the digital economy. Through this initiative by using council-owned buildings and assets to give our local economy and community what is now regarded as an essential service.
" We will reinvest money gained back into public services, including giving free wifi to 74 tenants halls across the borough.“I am committed to proactively pursuing further opportunities, such as Small Cells, that have the potential to deliver even more income and super connectivity across the borough.
“These proposals will not just deliver benefits to residents and businesses; they will allow us to help tackle the financial challenges we face as a local authority. By 2017 our funding from central government will have been cut in half and this plan will provide much needed revenue.
“I’d like as many residents and local businesses as possible to give us their feedback and thoughts on these ideas."
Vanessa Butz, Managing Director of Interchange said:"We have recently announced our 84,000 sq ft space for startups in Camden and welcome this initiative, as it will be a huge benefit for the area's growing community of entrepreneurs and small businesses."
Notes to editors
1. Superfast broadband is a connection that provides download speeds in excess of 24Mbps, compared to standard broadband which has a connection speed of up to 8Mbps or ADSL2 which has speeds from 8-24 Mbps.3.
2. Residents can give their views on the proposals at https://consultations.wearecamden.org/finance/free-wifi-in-the-tra-halls-and-faster-mobile-broad/consult_view
3. The full report on these proposals will be available on Camden’s website from 12 October 20155. More information about Interchange is available at http://interchange.io/
4. The map below shows superfast broadband coverage in the borough, with green indicating availability of superfast broadband (24Mbps and above) and red where only standard is available. The south of the borough where demand from businesses is also much higher (from Camden Town and further south towards Holborn and Covent Garden) has significantly less access to superfast speeds.