‘Super-connected’ city contenders named

The £50m government cash pot for ultra-fast broadband will be competed over by 27 cities

The 27 UK cities fighting for a slice of Government funding for ultra-fast broadband have been named today by the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS).

The cities from all corners of the country are hoping to receive some of the £50m funding, announced by chancellor George Osborne in March this year, which will go towards the building of both fixed broadband and wireless networks.

On the shortlist is 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.

Each city needs to produce detailed plans on how they would spend a share of the money, but guidance will be published on 18 May to help them with the process.  

There are conditions that come with the funding, including delivering fixed connections with speeds of between 80Mbps and 100Mbps and making sure the wireless connectivity also falls into the ‘high-speed’ bracket.

To qualify for the funding, cities had to have a Royal Charter, along with more than 45,000 homes and businesses to serve – reduced to 35,000 in Northern Ireland. They are also not allowed to already have network capabilities from the private sector.

There are already 10 cities working on becoming ‘super-connected’ thanks to an initial round of government funding worth £100m. This has gone to the four capitals, as well as Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Bradford, Newcastle and Manchester.

However, those who failed to make the grade in this first round of funding will not be allowed to apply for the second batch.

The final breakdown figures for each of the existing awards has yet to be revealed, as the chancellor is awaiting reports from all 10 – due in July – to show how they would spend the cash.

However, Osborne did claim the funding would enable ultrafast broadband access to around 1.7m premises and 200,000 businesses by 2015.

An announcement on which of the 27 cities are successful with be made in the chancellor’s autumn statement.

The latest statement from the DCMS comes on the same day the new president of the FTTH Council Europe slammed the UK’s progress on broadband in an interview with Computer Weekly.

Karin Ahl claimed the government’s plans were “not ambitious enough” and it needed to “widen eyes and widen scope” for businesses to be able to take full advantage of the benefits fibre broadband can bring.

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