UK government to invest £100m for super-connected cities

As part of the UK's fall spending review, George Osborne announces new funds to speed up and spread out the government's super-fast broadband plan.

George Osborne, the UK's treasurer, announced today plans to invest £100 million ($156m) into urban broadband, to create 10 'super-connected' cities, including the four capitals of the United Kingdom.

The move, announced in his Autumn Statement [PDF] presented to Parliament this afternoon, is part of a £5 billion ($7.8bn) plan to fund nationwide infrastructure spending.

Included in the urban broadband renewal, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast will benefit from the fund. Along with six other major cities, which will be chosen as part of a UK-wide competition, those chosen will receive broadband infrastructure boosts to enable speeds in the range of 80-100 Mbps.

The current UK average is around 5-7 Mbps, making it the 25th fastest country for high-speed Internet in the world, falling behind most European countries.

These so-called 'not-spot' areas of limited or no Internet coverage, particularly in urban areas of the UK's major cities, will also benefit from the funding boost.

The plan will also see a rollout thought to be 4G technology as part of plans to roll out city-wide Wi-Fi networks, seen recently in London, in which mobile giant O2 rolled out a trial of its next-generation wireless technology to reach from Paddington to Canary Wharf.

While those in rural Britain who remain particularly affected by lack of broadband availability -- though 4G trials are currently underway to see how wireless technology can benefit those without stable landline broadband connections -- those out in the countryside could soon see a reprieve to their broadband speed woes.

Announcing the £20 million 'Rural Community Broadband Fund' to help ensure rural businesses and homes receive super-fast broadband, the government will consider rolling it out further should it prove successful.

BT, the UK's largest broadband provider with six million users, welcomed the news, only weeks after it accelerated its rollout of super-fast broadband, hoping to serve two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2014.

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