Budget 2012: 10 cities to get ultra-fast broadband

By Sooraj Shah
21 Mar 2012 View Comments
Chancellor George Osborne 2011

Budget 2012: Chancellor George Osborne said that 10 UK cities will have access to superfast broadband in a bid to make Britain "Europe's technology centre".

The 10 cities – Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle – will have their broadband speeds upgraded in a bid to make the cities "super-connected".

Further reading

The super-connected cities were first announced in the autumn when the Chancellor said that network providers would improve broadband speeds to between 80-100Mbit/s.

The cities will be provided with £100m in funding in total, while the Chancellor also pledged a further £50m of government funding to improve broadband access in smaller cities.

"To be Europe's technology centre we also need to have the best infrastructure," he said.

Osborne said that rural areas would be the best connected in Europe if mobile coverage was improved.

Matt Hawkins, founder and managing director of infrastructure services provider C4L, said that the Chancellor's announcement is positive for rural areas.

"It's great to see that the government is also looking to increase broadband investment into smaller cities, which are usually forgotten about when such investments are made.

"When it comes to rural areas in the UK, the trouble is that it's just not profitable enough for most large providers to expand from their established customer base in urban areas to more remote communities.

"As a result, it's down to local government and initiatives such as the rural community broadband fund to reach out to the roughly 25 per cent of the country who aren't currently covered," he said.

However, Chris Hardy, regional director of UK public sector at security firm McAfee, believes that the added connectivity will lead to more security issues with networks.

"The government's ambition for Britain to become ‘Europe's technology centre' and promised funding for ultra-fast broadband and Wi-Fi in major UK cities is a critical step in ensuring that the UK remains a competitive player in the world market.

"However, with increased connectivity and access to public services online, this also presents new opportunities for cyber criminals, as more consumers access potentially insecure networks," he said.

Hardy believes that there has to be more emphasis on making networks secure.

"While individual departments, such as the HMRC, have invested in additional staff and intelligence to protect against cybercrime, this is not yet standard practice.

"With such emphasis on super-connected cities and better online access for citizens, this promise must be delivered in line with a nationwide education and awareness programme for safety online. It is not simply about defending government systems but also about the whole supply chain," he said.

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