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Cities line up for money from Urban Broadband Fund
Thursday 16 February 2012 10:14:11 by Andrew Ferguson

The Urban Broadband Fund of £100m that is to be shared between the four national capitals (Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London) and a further six cities from a list of ten cities (Bradford, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham) had a deadline for submissions of February 13th 2012.

At this time there has been no public announcements from the fund as to which cities have submitted bids, but a couple of areas have gone public with what they plan to do. Leeds and Bradford are submitting a joint bid and Bristol announced some detail for its £22 million project in January.

"The two cities' economies are integrally linked and are the driving force for the wider growth of the city region economy. It therefore made absolute sense to prepare a joint submission, and the funding we have bid for will enable us to transform our economies and set the standards for international competitiveness."

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader Leeds City Council

The Leeds and Bradford bid aims to get 100 Mbps and faster broadband to some 88,000 homes and over 16,000 businesses, with a further aim of this being rolled out to a wider area over time. In addition to fixed line services, a WiFi umbrella network that will also extend along the transport links between the two cities.

The Bristol plan sounds more ambitious with talk of GigaBit Bristol, the initial area to be covered will be the area comprising Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, Harbourside and the university. This is an area with 5,000 businesses, 5,000 students and 5,000 social housing tenants. As with Leeds and Bradford WiFi is seen as a key part of the plan to provide internet access in public spaces.

The This Is Bristol article suggests Bristol lags behind Swindon in terms of WiFi coverage, but the Digital City project in Swindon lost the council some £400,000 and the last that was heard of the project was that Capita and UK Broadband (PCCW) were looking to take on the project, but visiting the UK Broadband website reveals nothing about Swindon. If you live in Swindon and know something more about the project, please email us at andrew@thinkbroadband.com.

From these two plans, it seems councils are not addressing slow-spots across their city, but trying to create an ultra-fast sector. With many areas of cities not eligible for BDUK funding, this could create a scenario where people living in villages have better connectivity than people on large estates within the outskirts of a city. The interest in WiFi is not a surprise, but with 4G roll-outs about to commence, it is a shame to not see cities pushing to ensure good voice and data coverage.

Comments

Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
remind me again why only limited cities can apply? we have a fund for rural, a fund for elite cities, wheres the fund for non elite cities?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Living in Leeds this is of interest to me if only to confirm what I suspect in that I'll be outside of whatever they have planned. The press release doesn't give much detail, talk of diagram showing the ares but I can't see it....
Posted by KarlAustin over 5 years ago
If it's wasted like the money DigitalRegion has had then don't expect much to show for it :(
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
gmann isn't yeadon already planned for upgrade?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
The rawdon exchange is planned for an upgrade, whether my cab is - is a different matter :)
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
So, there is an URBAN Braodband Fund that cvers areas where there is strong commercial sense to have good broadband and plenty of potential for profit. But there is no RURAL Broadband Fund! So businesses outside or urban areas are once again being deliberately discriminated against!
About time we had some balance here and rural people offered the same as urban people.
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
I doubt 4G would help us. We don't have a good enough mobile signal to get internet through a dongle. I get just under 1MBs/0.8MBs and I am in a village squeezed in between a town and a city. Our exchange is in a neighbouring village also squeezed in between the city and town but nearer the city (just outside its official borders and joined on to the edge of the city).
We may not be rural enough to count as rural and we're certainly not going to be in an special high speed zone- we're too rural for that and anyway we're under a different council to the city.
Posted by andy88 over 5 years ago
Have to admit to be being slightly puzzled at who benefits and/or saves money.
The project is to replace ADSL links in 60 odd Pt-2-Pt schools/buildings with “cheaper” connections, than ADSL (?) at a time when FTTC is rolled out at all the swindon exchanges just the last roads to be fibre'd up (so a building should be no problem).
The Three network has its unlimited 3G data plans.. so kinda who needs this ?
not for me to say, having just failed in the wifi for all project, is there a success plan (aka need) for this ?
Rural/ unconnected places would seem more appropriate as commented by others
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