Ten of the biggest cities in the UK will have access to “ultrafast” broadband of at least 80Mbps by 2015.
Networks will be deployed in the cities of Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle, the British chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget speech today.
The £100m rollout will provide “ultrafast” coverage to 1.7 million households and 200,000 businesses , as well as high speed wireless broadband for three million residents. The government will also provide an additional £50m to fund a wave of ten smaller “superconnected” cities.
“Two years ago Britain had some of the slowest broadband speeds in Europe; today our plans will deliver some of the fastest — with 90 percent of the population having access to super-fast broadband, and improved mobile phone coverage for rural areas and along key roads across the UK,” Osborne said.
A National Infrastructure Programme report produced by the government late last year said that the government’s aim is for the UK “to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, taking into account coverage, speed, price and choice of broadband services”.
However while the investment in urban broadband was welcomed by David Clarke, CEO of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, he said that the government needs to ensure that there is access to high speed broadband across the UK.
”It is equally important that we don’t lose sight of the need to invest in broadband access across the whole of the UK to ensure that we have a truly digitally enabled society,” he said.
Broadband speeds vary widely across the UK, with a recent survey by price comparison site uSwitch finding that one third of households get broadband speeds well below the national average of 5Mbps.
A separate £530m fund will help finance the rollout of 25Mbps+ broadband to areas - typically rural - where it isn’t economically viable for the market to deploy superfast connectivity, with the aim of providing these speeds to 90 per cent of the UK by 2015.