Government names ten "ultrafast" broadband cities

George Osborne also reveals £50m for ultrafast projects in "smaller cities"

Stewart Mitchell
21 Mar 2012

The Government has named the ten cities due to get ultrafast broadband under a £100 million infrastructure improvement scheme and announced an additional £50m in broadband funding to be divvied up between smaller cities.

Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London had already been named to receive funding when the £100 million was announced last year, but now Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, and Newcastle are also being promised ultrafast broadband speeds – defined by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as between 80Mbits/sec and 100Mbits/sec.

The DCMS said the cities “have all successfully bid to become Super-Connected Cities with ultrafast fixed broadband access, and large areas of public wireless connectivity”.

According to a DCMS spokesperson, the funding for the fixed and mobile projects will take the form of a direct grant to the authorities involved, bypassing the usual funding overseer, Broadband Delivery UK.

The cities will be asked to submit detailed proposals for how they would use the funding, with actual allocations depending on those proposals - so the cities may not see anywhere near the $100 million funding if the proposals do not meet with DCMS agreement.

Bristol, for example, has already been approved between £4.2m but could win up to £12m, while London’s award potential ranges between a base of £10m and maximum of £25m.

The headline-grabbing £100m is based on the maximum possible award, not the base award, which actually adds up to £68.2m. Local authorities need to submit proposals by July.

According to the DCMS, the ten proposals involve providing ultrafast broadband access to around 1.7 million premises and 200,000 businesses by 2015 while almost three million residents would have access to a wireless network.

Additional £50m

As part of his budget speech, Chancellor George Osborne also announced that a new £50 million fund would be created to bring ultra-fast broadband to additional, as yet unnamed, UK cities.

The details were scant, but Osborne said the £50m was in response to requests for help from smaller cities, which will be invited to submit applications for funding.

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