Budget confirms ten cities set for ultra-fast broadband cash
Chancellor George Osborne has used his Budget speech to confirm the ten UK cities set to receive a share of £100 million of state funding for ultra-fast broadband.
A total of 14 municipalities were in the running for the Urban Broadband Fund initiative, which will support the rollout of at least 80Mbps fibre optic-based services in areas where BT and Virgin Media are not planning to deploy the technology.
Mr Osborne had already said the UK's four capitals - Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London - were guaranteed to be included in the scheme.
They will be joined by Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Bradford, Newcastle and Manchester, meaning Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield are the four shortlisted cities to miss out on funding.
It is thought that the ten winning projects will involve the deployment of ultra-fast connectivity to around 1.7 million properties and 200,000 businesses by 2015, while a fast wireless network will be rolled out to almost three million residents.
"These bids have the potential to create in the UK ten of the best cities in the world for broadband connectivity," Mr Osborne commented.
As well as confirming these locations will benefit from government financial support, the Chancellor unveiled a separate £50 million fund to deliver ultra-fast broadband to a second wave of ten smaller cities.
This news is likely to be welcomed by Brighton and Hove, which appealed to the Conservative-led coalition for inclusion in the original scheme but was turned down on the grounds that it failed to meet the criteria of having at least 150,000 dwellings.
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said the city has the biggest cluster of digital businesses per head of any population in the whole UK and has also built up a well-known "digital alliance" with two of the successful ultra-fast broadband applicants - Bristol and Manchester.