Virgin Media lobbying DCMS for changes to superfast city projects
Both BT and Virgin Media have objected to the granting of EU State Aid for the Birmingham super-connected city project, and it appears Virgin Media is now lobbying the culture secretary according to City A.M.
Virgin Media wants changes made to the way the projects operate, namely that they prove this is un-met demand for the networks and help businesses to exploit the fast networks that are already available in the area.
As the super-connected city projects require EU State Aid approval demand registration and identification of what is commercially available now and likely to be for the next three years are in theory already a pre-requisite, though in the case of Birmingham this still appears to have resulted in a project that at least partially overlaps the existing Virgin Media footprint.
While Virgin Media obviously would stand to gain from making businesses more aware of the existing broadband options, there is also the sense that if all the super-connected cities follow the route of Birmingham and create ultra-fast Gigabit enabled enclaves, that over time businesses will move to these areas, the end result being migration inside the city, reducing business for commercial operators making further commercial investment less likely.
The Autumn statement on 5th December is expected to announce which 10 cities have won a share of the £50m funding, so it seems unlikely much will change in the 50 hours or so before the statement is released.
The recent free WiFi project in Leeds and Bradford also shows that millions are not actually needed to improve aspects of service in the cities and that commercial providers have not given up on cities.