UK broadband gets £100m shot in the arm

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Chancellor George Osborne has announced a £100m boost to broadband coverage in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff, with a further six cities to be identified later, delivering superfast broadband to 90% of homes.

In his Autumn Statement, Osborne revealed the plan will create a hub of superfast cities with broadband speeds of between 80 to 100Mbps and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity.

The chancellor told the Commons: "It means creating new superfast digital networks for companies across our country. These do not exist today. See what countries like China or Brazil are building, and you'll also see why we risk falling behind the rest of the world.

"Our great cities are at the heart of our regional economies. And we will help bring world leading, superfast broadband and wi-fi connections to 10 of them - including the capitals of all four nations.”

Firms such as BT and Virgin will be able to bid for the money, which they can use to fill in urban areas or increase Wi-Fi coverage.

With the UK currently ranked at number 25 in the world for broadband speed, the government has set itself a target to make the UK the best equipped for broadband in Europe by 2015.

However critics have said that the money could be better spent boosting rural broadband.

Many have complained that the £530m set aside by the government to encourage investment in these areas has been insufficient and that few local councils have got projects up and running.

The boost to city broadband forms part of a £5bn increase in infrastructure spending as set out in the National Infrastructure Plan.

The government has also announced a £150m investment into extending mobile coverage.

About Robert Lovell

Business and finance journalist


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