Manchester will already have a lot of fibre optic cable running around the city, but the problem for smaller businesses and homes is the cost of tapping into this. Manchester City Council is keen to position the city as a "Next Generation City" by building an open network that utilises fibre to the premises and wireless.
"If Manchester's economy is to continue to grow then it is vital that we have accessible and affordable super-fast broadband, based on the proven state-of-the-art capabilities of fibre and advanced wireless; this is what the Next Generation Digital City project aims to do. We know that other European cities which are competing directly with us, such as Amsterdam and Paris, are providing fibre directly into businesses and the home, at a fraction of the cost of anywhere in the UK. Consumers and businesses then benefit by having reliable broadband at anything up to 1,000 times the speeds that are currently offered here. We believe that this will soon become a major competitive threat to Manchester and the UK as a whole."Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Neil Swannick
The network is being described as available to the Oxford Road areas of the city later this month, but no indications of whether this is referring to the infrastructure, or the ability for a consumer to actually get an Internet connection over the link. A report on the capital expenditure by the council lists the Oxford Road corridor as covering the Ardwick, Hulme, Moss Side, Rusholme and City Centre Wards, with an increase in the capital budget of £487,000 (£50,000 in 2008/09, £250,000 in 2009/10 and £187,000 in 2010/11).
While the number of fibre projects is increasing, we are very quickly approaching a point where next generation broadband in the UK will take on a patchwork look, with slightly different solutions in different parts of the country. Service providers will by and large not embrace the varied nature of how customers connect over the multitude of open networks emerging, thus we may see just one or two providers offering service on the new fibre networks. The end result being that takeup will be reduced as some remain on ADSL/ADSL2+/cable infrastructures due to the complete package which is offered.