14 cities in the running for super-connected status
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled a list of 14 locations around the UK that have the chance to become "super-connected cities", complete with ultra-fast broadband and high-speed mobile services.
Up to ten cities will be chosen to receive a share of £100 million in government funding to help finance the rollout of broadband with speeds of between 80Mbps and 100Mbps, Chancellor George Osborne announced in last month's Autumn Statement.
Mr Osborne had already confirmed Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London are in the running, leaving Mr Hunt to announce the additional ten places.
Eight "core cities" have been included, along with locations with more than 150,000 dwellings, meaning Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield are set to battle it out with the four capitals to win super-connected status.
According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, each of these metropolitan areas has the necessary size and economic infrastructure required to attract new businesses off the back of the improved broadband connectivity.
To apply for the urban broadband fund, bidding cities must show how they will take advantage of the technology to drive growth, with particular emphasis on strategic employment zones and small and medium-sized enterprises.
BT and Virgin Media have said they will upgrade their networks in each of the winning cities, while the state aid will be spent on boosting services in areas that the telecoms firms do not reach.
Mr Hunt commented: "Transforming communities into super-connected cities will enable them to compete with the world's top digital cities.
"It will help them attract new jobs and new investment and make the UK a place where digital businesses look to come. It will help our creative industries and high-tech companies grow while making the UK even more attractive to overseas firms."
Away from these major cities, the government is aiming to deliver speeds of at least 24Mbps to 90 per cent of the country, with minimum 2Mbps download rates for the remaining ten per cent.
- Department for Culture Media and Sport
- Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement 2011