Thursday 22, March 2012
Manchester to get ultra-fast broadband
MANCHESTER has been chosen as one of the ten cities to become ‘‘super-connected’’ thanks to the Government’s £100m internet investment in the UK, writes Jason Gallagher.
The details were announced as part of George Osborne’s budget plans.
The other cities include Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle and London.
With speeds increasing to as much as 100Mbps (megabits per second), 224,000 homes and 11,000 businesses will reap the benefits by 2014/15.
Additional funding will also be available to support small and medium-sized businesses requiring even faster connectivity.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The Manchester Digital City package will result in high speed internet access for all of our residents and businesses, promoting social inclusion and stimulating economic growth, particularly in the digital and media industries.
“We’ve repeatedly stressed the importance of improved transport infrastructure to the city’s future, but leading edge digital connectivity is every bit as essential. We aim to be one of the world’s top 20 digital cities by 2020 and this funding will help propel us along that path.”
The cash injection comes at a time when controversy has surrounded how every penny is spent by the Government.
George O’Neill, an IT businessman, from Salford, thinks money could be better spent elsewhere.
“For most people in Manchester the speed is fine the way it is. The government should have looked at improving the connection in more deprived areas like Liverpool.
“People also need to realise that the greatest difference will not necessarily be the super-fast speed but rather the capability to have a decent connection during busy periods of the day”.
Graphic designer Ross Idzha, from Belfast, another city to obtain the high-speed broadband believes it’s hard to know if it is actually needed.
“It’s still quick and more than adequate for most people trying to stream videos or use social media.
“Few companies actually deliver the speeds that are advertised. Time will tell whether £100m is worth it from the budget,” he added.
The money is set to balance out areas that will not be covered by the likes of Virgin Media and BT.
BT announced just last week that three more parts of Greater Manchester – Eccles, Horwich and Leigh – are set to benefit from super-fast broadband.
They said the high-speed technology will be available to more than 37,000 extra homes and businesses in the region by next spring.
Andrew Ferguson, Editor of Thinkbroadband, thinks the market should have done more to provide the service.
“It’s difficult to tell whether it’s actually needed as there has been a failure by the market to deliver an alternative. Few companies are actually offering an alternative to the Government plans and that’s the reason this is happening – the market has been too slow to deliver.
“It’s important, if speeds are actually going to deliver, that each city makes their deadline in 2015 and also sets a deadline every few years. The EU has set a 2020 deadline for the UK to meet – this is critical if connection speeds will be as fast as they're advertised.”
Dr Alexander Roy is head of research at Manchester-based New Economy, set up to improve economic prosperity in the city.
He said: “We’re really pleased the Government has recognised the merits of investing in ultra-fast broadband in Manchester. We have been working on this agenda for more than two years.”
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