Brighton & Hove councillors are working towards ensuring that 96% of premises have access to ultrafast broadband, with minimum speeds of 80 Mbps, and are expected to authorise officials to seek internet providers who can do this.
A report to the council’s policy committee on March 21 recommends councillors allow officers to prepare bid documents, invite tenders and appoint contractors to install cable networks and wireless access.
In December the council and partners won over £3m from the government to upgrade the city’s internet capacity. The council will also distribute some of the money in the form of vouchers to small companies to improve fibre optic connections to their premises.
Funding allocated under the culture department’s Wave 2 programme needs to be spent by April 2014 – it is expected to help fund enhanced fibre optic connections and make wireless broadband available in buildings and outdoors on mobile devices. Areas targeted will be those which currently have poor existing commercial provision.
It is believed that the move would inject around £12.5m a year into the local economy. It will also unlock a further £1.37m of private sector investment into the city’s digital infrastructure.
Ultrafast broadband provides is more than three times faster than ‘superfast’ broadband. Over 90 per cent of Brighton & Hove is currently covered by superfast.
According to Council leader Jason Kitcat: “Ultrafast broadband or the ability to pick up fast wifi in the street would be a vital boost for our digital media and creative sector. Many of these companies are very small or individual freelancers who often would not be able to afford such a connection. This improved connectivity will unleash even more of our city’s potential.”
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