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In the news - The high-tech Budget

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Hajar Javaheri Hajar Javaheri | 11:53 UK time, Wednesday, 28 March 2012

If you've used the BBC's Budget calculator, you'll have a pretty good idea of how George Osborne's budget might affect you. But tax rises and cuts aside, if you happen to live in one of the country's ten major cities, you could also see an increase in broadband speed. As well as revealing plans to offer corporation tax relief to the gaming industries from April 2013, it was announced last week that 'super-connected cities' would share a £100m pot to help them deliver 'ultrafast' broadband.

The investment was initially announced in the chancellor's Autumn Statement and by 2015, speeds of up to 100mpbs will be delivered to 1.7 million households and 200,000 business across the cities of Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

A further £50m was also pledged to help smaller cities improve their broadband speeds.

Superfast (around 40-50mpbs) and ultrafast broadband are currently only available to certain parts of the country through fibre optic cables, but with the government's help, it's expected that more people could benefit from it.

But with a recent study finding that half UK households have broadband speeds under 6.7mpbs there's concern that too much is being done to connect the already well-connected, while others still struggle to get a basic service.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman has said that rather than bring the UK up to speed, the ten super-connected cities will actually help create a 'digital underclass' where rural areas, the unemployed and elderly will be left behind. In the House of Commons this week she reiterated Labour's initiative to guarantee the whole country speeds of 2mbps.

Hoping to make the UK "Europe's technology centre", the government will also provide tax relief to video games, animation and high-end television industries. Supporters say that these measures will create jobs and boost the UK economy, addressing recent fears that we're falling behind in the global gaming market. Others however, believe it will do little to fully address the country's tech industry needs.

For the full report, see the BBC News article, and to find out how to get yourself hooked up to broadband in the first place, try the WebWise guide.

Hajar is a regular contributor to the WebWise blog and has also made award-winning programmes for BBC Radio. In her spare time she loves reading, writing and singing.

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