Broadband and wi-fi boost for Newcastle

September 20, 2012

Newcastle City Council has secured £6m of Government funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for fixed and wireless broadband following a bid by the city council that was backed by businesses and residents.

The funding from the Urban Broadband Fund will effectively be doubled with match funding from the city council and the private sector, making a total investment of £12m.
It means that ultrafast broadband will be rolled out to an extra 6,500 residential and 3,900 business premises and provide improved high speed wireless access.
It will allow the council to:
  • Widen internet access across the city
  • Ensure that opportunities go online
  • Influence broadband providers to make services more affordable 
At a national level, the cash will create 10 Super-Connected Cities that will revolutionise access to information. In the winning cities, the existing network suppliers have pledged to strengthen their networks.
The city will have among the fastest broadband speeds of any major city in Europe, helping businesses reach new markets and products, and residents access a wider choice of cheaper services.
Council leader, Coun Nick Forbes, said: “This is magnificent news for Newcastle.
“Reliable ultrafast broadband is vital to attract businesses to Newcastle, and will transform the way that we all work and socialise. It will give us a real competitive advantage with other major European cities.
“It’s also great news for residents, who will be able to access job opportunities, shop around for cheaper services and surf the web much quicker.
“We received thousands of pledges of support and would like to thank all of the businesses and residents who played an important part in this.
“We are keen to start work with our partners so we can roll out these benefits across the city as soon as possible."
Adrian Kelly is Products and Services Director for business software provider Sage, whose headquarters are in Newcastle.
He said: “This is a good day for Newcastle. When businesses have access to fast internet speeds they are better able to compete and have more chance of succeeding at both a local and international level.
“We have a fantastic skills base in the region and a proven track record for producing market leading companies, and the arrival of superfast broadband will make the city an even more attractive place for businesses and strengthen that position.”
Wi-fi will enable people to access the worldwide web in public areas across the city while ultrafast broadband will allow large amounts of data to be transferred in the blink of an eye.
The infrastructure - up and running by 2015 - will take in key development sites; Central Station, East Pilgrim Street, Stephenson Quarter and Science Central. Signage for the public will also be installed across the city.
Benefits for businesses include; helping develop new products and services, reaching new markets, greater web profile, better access to education and training for employees.
Residents will get faster, more reliable and stable internet connection, greater access to cheaper services and employment opportunities.
The next steps are to develop plans and procure delivery partners.
In July Cabinet approved £970,000 for improvements to broadband infrastructure across the city to widen internet access for communities not well served by broadband as part of the Local Broadband Plan.
The Government defines ultrafast broadband as having a minimum download speed of at least 80Mbps.
Other winning cities include: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.