Manchester city council has invited expressions of interest from suppliers in the first step towards a citywide broadband wireless network that is set to be the largest in Europe.
The council is initially planning to cover an area of 100 square miles, but hopes the network will eventually cover up to 400 square miles – 90% of the Greater Manchester area – and 2.2 million people.
Council leader Richard Leese said, “We have been inspired in our plans by the success of wireless and broadband networks in other leading cities around the world, such as San Francisco and Amsterdam.”
Manchester hopes the plans for the network will boost its bid for funds from the government’s Digital Challenge Initiative, which will award money to a city or region that can act as a national exemplar in digital advancement.
The Manchester announcement is the latest – and potentially largest – of a series of moves to create wireless networks in UK cities. Last week Westminster city council approved plans to extend a wireless network across its area following its successful pilot, while Birmingham launched plans for a Wi-Fi network to cover a square mile of the city centre last month.
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