27 UK cities seeking ultrafast broadband cash

Twenty seven cities throughout the UK are in the running to become ‘super-connected’, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

The cities are able to bid for a share of a £50 million pot to help them roll out ultrafast-broadband, driving growth and attracting new investment.

In the Budget, the Chancellor George Osborne announced the new fund, which will help create around 10 super-connected cities with 80-100Mbps broadband access. This is the second round of funding for ultra-fast broadband, with 10 of our largest cities already working on detailed plans to upgrade their networks.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for 27 cities across the country to demonstrate how they’d revolutionise the way their residents and businesses get online,” said Hunt, who suggested that the ultrafast speeds would allow more cities in the UK to compete with the fastest in the world, bringing new opportunities for growth, the development of high tech industries and the transformation of public services.

To be able to bid for the fund cities must have a Royal Charter and more than 45,000 homes and businesses, or more than 35,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland.

The eligible cities are Aberdeen, Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Exeter, Gloucester, Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Londonderry / Derry, Newport, Norwich, Oxford, Perth, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Salford, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Wolverhampton and York.

Bidding cities will need to produce plans for how they will use their share of the £50 million and detailed bidding guidance will be published by 18 May.

Projects will have to include the creation of a contiguous area offering fixed ultrafast broadband of at least 80-100Mbps broadband as well as high speed wireless connectivity.

The fund can only be used to support the roll-out of ultrafast broadband to areas that will not be served by the private sector.

The resources the city proposes to bring to the project – either in funding or other contributions – will be a factor in assessing the bids and there will be a presumption in favour of match funding.

The winning cities will be announced in the Treasury’s Autumn Statement later this year.

The first round of applications for super-connected status saw the four national capitals and six other cities selected. The first super-connected cities were announced by the Chancellor in the budget. They were Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

The unsuccessful cities from the first round will not be eligible to apply for the second fund.