Newcastle has launched plans to become one of the UK’s first super-connected cities in a scheme that will boost the city’s economy by a predicted £150 million.
Go Digital Newcastle, a government scheme delivered by Newcastle City Council, will see 97 per cent of Newcastle given access to superfast fibre broadband by 2015, free Wi-Fi in Newcastle City Centre, a cloud computing centre, business connection vouchers and a business support programme.
The UK Broadband Impact Study published this year by analysts SQW concluded for every £1 invested in broadband by government the UK economy will benefit by £20.
Council leader Cllr Nick Forbes said: “Superfast broadband can help turn local heroes into superheroes – our city-based businesses can use the faster speeds to reach new markets and products and compete on both a national and international scale.
“The economic benefits to the city will be significant and further cement Newcastle’s reputation as an exciting place to live and work.
Newcastle is one of 22 super-connected cities where small businesses (SMEs), charities and social enterprises can apply for connection vouchers worth up to £3,000 to get connected to high speed/high grade broadband with one of nearly two hundred registered suppliers.
Local businesses, charities and social enterprises are being urged to sign up for a connection voucher.
Visitors to the city and people needing internet access while on the move will have access to free Wi-Fi across the city and in public buildings, in high streets and there are plans to bring it onto the Metro
Newcastle householders will also benefit if they choose to upgrade to fibre broadband at home. Superfast connection speeds mean everyone in the family can do their own thing online at the same time, from downloading HD movies to file sharing, accessing public services and chatting to friends and family on Skype.
Around £9m of public funding is being put into Go Digital Newcastle. Funding comes from:
- The Local/Rural Broadband Programme, co-funded by the Council, the Government and BT. BT is investing £1.89m, with the Council investing £970,000 plus £970,000 from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) Local/Rural Broadband Programme fund.
- The Government’s Super Connected Cities Programme, covers the Broadband Connection Voucher scheme, Wi-Fi in the city and on the Metro and the Cloud Innovation Centre.
- ERDF and the Council are funding the Business Support programme of training and masterclasses.