UK Cities Fight For £100 Million Broadband Funding

UK Cities Fight For £100 Million Broadband Funding

George Osborne's 2012 budget promising 10 cities £100million of ultra-fast broadband subsidy has pitched city against city, but critics say his priorities are wrong.

London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Belfast, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds will bid for their share of a £100m "super-connected cities" fund to provide 100 megabit per second fibre optic internet connections.

Glasgow, Nottingham and Sheffield have been left out, while the ten selected cities will have to bid for their share of the £100 million cash pot.

1.7m households and 200,000 businesses in high growth areas will receive ultra-fast broadband, while 3 million homes will also receive high-speed wireless broadband.

"These bids have the potential to create in the UK, 10 of the best cities in the world for broadband connectivity," said Osborne in his budget speech.

"Two years ago Britain had some of the slowest broadband speeds in Europe; today our plans will deliver some of the fastest," he said. "But we should not be complacent by saying it is enough to be the best in Europe when countries like Korea and Singapore do even better."

The chancellor also offered towns £50million to help develop ultra-fast broadband and Wi-Fi across rural areas, as part of his "modern industrial policy" which he said will "turn Britain into Europe's technology centre."

A spokesperson for BT told The Huffington Post via email: "BT welcomes the announcement from the government today. These funds will help the private sector to improve speeds and coverage in the selected cities and we would encourage the government to deploy those funds in a way that encourages competition and investment."

Julia Stent, director of telecoms at said the connecting rural areas should have been a higher priority than connecting super-fast broadband to ten cities.

Stent told us via email: "It was clear from the budget that top of the broadband agenda for the government is the quest to become fastest in the world, and not just Europe.

"Whilst funding earmarked for ultra-fast broadband in 10 UK cities is both ambitious and heartening, the primary concern should be the provision of a quality service to rural areas before pursuing the title of fastest broadband in the world.

"We worry that the major towns and cities will speed ahead of the rest of the country in the premature quest to become fastest in the world. The government's chief concern should be the provision of a service to those areas lacking decent broadband infrastructure before pursuing the likes of Korea and Singapore."


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