The government has earmarked £114 million from its £830 million broadband investment pot to transform ten UK cities into “super-connected cities”.
The investment, announced today by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, will provide businesses with “ultrafast” broadband (up to 100Mbps) and high speed wireless Internet access in the four UK capital cities, as well as Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds & Bradford, Newcastle and Manchester.
The government hopes that, by offering high-tech and digital companies the infrastructure they need, these cities will be able to compete against the world’s top digital cities for business, investment and jobs.
“Fast broadband is essential for growth, and is key to the country’s economic future. These ten cities have produced ambitious and comprehensive plans, which will turn them into digital leaders, and give their local economies a real boost,” said Miller.
The allocations to each city are as follows:
- Belfast £13.7m
- Birmingham £10m
- Bristol £11.3m
- Cardiff £11m
- Edinburgh £10.7m
- Leeds & Bradford (joint bid) £14.4m
- London £25m
- Manchester £12m
- Newcastle £6m
The ten cities’ plans include taking ultrafast broadband access to an extra 230,000 residential and 55,000 business premises, and extending high speed wireless access. The plans are due to be delivered by 2015.
The government has previously pledged to invest a total of £830 million in delivering the best broadband in Europe and extending mobile coverage. It also aims to roll out superfast broadband to 90 percent of the UK by 2015.
However, a report published in May by the London School of Economics (LSE) found that public funds so far earmarked for the initiative would need to nearly double in order to meet this target.
Public broadband funding, not just from the government, stands at a total of £1.3 billion.
LSE estimated that another £1.1 billion of funding is needed to achieve the government’s broadband objectives, and said that the £50 million allocated by Chancellor George Osborne in the 2012 budget fell “well short” of filling the funding gap.
“This government is disguising its failure to roll out universal broadband by making yet another re-announcement about the super-connected cities programme,” said Helen Goodman MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Media and Telecoms.