Super-connected cities announced in Budget by Chancellor
Four of the cities from the ten super-connected cities lottery were already known, in the form of the four national capitals, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. The 2012 Budget had the Chancellor announce the remaining winning cities shortly after 1pm on Wednesday 21st March 2012, which are Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.
A further £50m of funding was announced to be shared amongst some of the smaller cities, the Infrastructure Delivery Plan for 2012 reveals that this £50m is to be shared between ten smaller cities.
Broadband has obviously clawed its way up the priority list, being mentioned as one of the key infrastructure projects that the UK needs to spend money on. This is particularly the case with the need to boost our levels of exports abroad.
While some rough detail had been announced by the bidding cities, we should now find out more about what their plans are and in particular how much of an impact this £100m split ten ways will have.
super-connected cities: has selected Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle to become super-connected cities, as part of the £100 million investment announced at the Autumn Statement 2011. By 2015 this will deliver ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and 200,000 businesses in high growth areas as well as high-speed wireless broadband for 3 million residents. The Government will also provide an additional £50 million to fund a second wave of ten smaller super-connected cities;Extract from Infrastructure Delivery Update
With ultrafast broadband normally defined as 100 Mbps, and currently the only way to deliver this is either a DOCSIS 3.0 cable network or full fibre to the premises, it is very difficult to see how £100 million can deliver this to some 1.9 million premises, since it is only around £50 per property. The reality is that in many cities, commercial roll-outs are ensuring many people already have the option of 100 Mbps via Virgin Media, thus the £100m will actually be used to connect those where commercial companies have decided it is too expensive to roll-out their newest services.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has released some more detail, which includes a breakdown of the funding.
|City||Base award||Maximum possible award|
|Leeds and Bradford (joint proposal)||£10m||£14.6m|
The range represents the fact that the plans are just proposals currently, now that cities have an idea of the base level of funding they can move forward and create firm plans. The key to delivering something that will exceed the broadband capabilities of cities across Europe is the level of local funding and how much investment private companies can provide.