Manchester City Council

Manchester Digital City bid aims to make city a world-leader

Manchester City Council has submitted a bid for up to £12 million of government funding to become a ‘superconnected city.’

The city is applying for the funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's Urban Broadband Fund which is offering up to 10 cities a share of £100 million to spread the advantages of ultrafast broadband.

The plans would complement a wider Greater Manchester-wide strategy to roll out ultrafast broadband across the city region.

If fully successful, the Manchester Digital City bid would make ultrafast broadband available to 235,000 premises - 224,000 residential and 11,000 businesses - across the city by 2014/15.

Additional funding would also be available to support small and medium-sized businesses requiring even faster connectivity, including providing support and advice to help them maximise the benefits.

And high-speed wireless connections would be installed across key public areas and along major transport corridors, making it easier than ever for people in the city to get online quickly.

The project would also tackle issues of digital exclusion in so-called 'white' areas where the private sector have been reluctant to invest. Currently only 74 per cent of residents can access broadband, with take-up particularly low in some of the city's more deprived communities, for example Wythenshawe and East Manchester.

Removing this 'digital divide' would radically improve the potential to deliver online services to residents.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Manchester's ambition is to become of the world's top 20 digital cities by 2020. Providing high speed access to the internet for all of our residents and businesses will promote social inclusion and stimulate 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 just as important. This bid has the potential to make a massive difference."

Cities are expected to learn in the March budget whether they have been successful in their UBF bids.