UK allocates funding for 'superconnected cities'

Ten cities in the UK will share a £114 million pot of funding for broadband. The investment, announced by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, will help transform the 10 cities into “super-connected cities.” The funding will go towards providing businesses with ultrafast broadband at speeds of at least 80—100 Mbps and improving high-speed wireless Internet access in those cities.

Ten cities in the UK will share a £114 million pot of funding for broadband. The investment, announced by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, will help transform the 10 cities into “super-connected cities.” The funding will go towards providing businesses with ultrafast broadband at speeds of at least 80—100 Mbps and improving high-speed wireless Internet access in those cities.

The UK government says that by offering high-tech and digital companies the infrastructure they need, the cities will be able to compete for business, investment, and jobs with the top digital cities across the world. Culture Secretary Maria Miller said, “Fast broadband is essential for growth, and is key to the country’s economic future. These 10 cities have produced ambitious and comprehensive plans, which will turn them into digital leaders, and give their local economies a real boost. The new investment will help put these cities at the center of the digital stage, competing for jobs and investment with the best in the world.”

The four UK capital cities along with Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds & Bradford, Newcastle, and Manchester will share the funding. The allocations to each city are:

  • Belfast £13.7 million
  • Birmingham £10 million
  • Bristol £11.3 million
  • Cardiff £11 million
  • Edinburgh £10.7 million
  • Leeds & Bradford (joint bid) £14.4 million
  • London £25 million
  • Manchester £12 million
  • Newcastle £6 million.

The 10 cities’ plans include taking ultrafast broadband access to around an extra 230,000 residential and 55,000 business premises and increasing the availability of high-speed wireless. All the plans are due to be delivered by 2015.

A total of 14 cities were eligible to apply for the first round of super-connected city funding. The successful cities, along with an indicative range of allocations, had been previously announced in this year’s budget. This latest announcement sets out the amount of government investment allocated to each city. The cities are all required to provide additional resources towards the project.

The total sum allocated to the 10 cities exceeds the £100 million originally allocated.

The government wants the UK to have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015, and the fastest broadband of any major European country. The Comprehensive Spending Review allocated £530 million for investing in broadband over the lifetime of the current Parliament. The funding for super-connected cities is additional investment, although the government says it expects “to manage the costs within the overall £830 million available for broadband.” A further £150 million is being invested in extending mobile coverage to areas of the UK that currently have no mobile coverage.

A second super-connected city fund was also announced in the Budget, which will see a further £50 million shared between 10 smaller cities. The second round is open to cities with a Royal Charter and more than 45,000 homes and businesses, or more than 35,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland. The eligible cities are Aberdeen, Brighton & Hove, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Exeter, Gloucester, Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Londonderry/Derry, Newport, Norwich, Oxford, Perth, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Salford, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Wolverhampton, and York.

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