Fourteen cities across the UK have the chance to become super-connected cities, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today.

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor George Osborne announced up to 10 cities would share £100m and become super-connected with 80-100Mbps broadband access.

The four capitals - London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast - will benefit while the others will be chosen through a competition. 

Today details of those eligible to apply have been published along with guidance for bidders.

The competition is open to the eight core cities and the UK cities that have more than 150,000 dwellings.  They are Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield.

These cities have the necessary size and economy to be able to use super-connected status to drive growth, attract new businesses to the area and transform the way services are provided and accessed.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt said:

“The internet is now a fundamental part of our economy.  We must ensure the UK has a broadband network fit for the digital age.

“Transforming communities into super-connected cities will enable them to compete with the world’s top digital cities. 

“It will help them attract new jobs and new investment and make the UK a place where digital businesses look to come.  It will help our creative industries and high-tech companies grow while making the UK even more attractive to overseas firms.

“New businesses are being set up because of the internet while many others are using the internet to grow.  We are determined to ensure the UK has the digital infrastructure we need to drive growth.”

As part of their proposal to the urban broadband fund, the cities will have to bid for a share of the £100 million and detail how they will use it. 

BT and Virgin will strengthen their networks in the winning cities to deliver 80-100Mbps broadband speeds.  The city’s share of the £100 million can be used to provide coverage in areas where BT and Virgin will not go or services beyond what the market will provide.

The bidding cities will have to show how they will use super-connected status to drive growth with a particular focus on SMEs and strategic employment zones.

Proposals will also need to include plans for city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity and bidding cities will be expected to contribute to the cost by providing additional investment or using public assets.

Proposals have to be submitted by February 13 2012 and the successful cities will be announced in the Budget in March.  The Government will then work with the successful cities to produce fully developed plans and the money allocated to each city will be announced in July.

The four capitals will become super-connected cities but will still need to produce a plan detailing their proposals.

Notes to Editors

  1. Guidance for submitting proposals to the Urban Broadband Fund.

  2. The Government wants the UK to have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.  The Comprehensive Spending Review allocated £530 million for investing in broadband over this Parliament with a further £300 million available by 2017 as part of the TV licence fee settlement.  The £100 million for super-connected cities is additional investment.

  3. The core cities were announced earlier this month. The eight cities are the largest and most economically important English cities outside of London. 

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