Budget 2012: 'Super-connected cities' and video games tax credits

Budget red box New tax breaks for the games industry were announced in the Budget

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Chancellor George Osborne has announced which cities will benefit from a £100m pot of Treasury cash aimed at making them "super-connected".

These are London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

Mr Osborne also announced a further £50m to improve net access in 10 unnamed "smaller cities".

He said that he wanted the UK to become "Europe's technology centre".

The super-connected cities were first announced in Mr Osborne's autumn statement, when he pledged £100m to create 100Mbps (megabit per second) citywide networks in 10 urban areas.

By 2015 it is hoped the investments in cities will provide ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and high-speed wireless broadband for three million residents.

Motorway reception

The chancellor also announced plans to extend mobile coverage to 60,000 rural homes and along at least 10 key roads by 2015, including the A2 and A29 in Northern Ireland, the A57, A143, A169, A352, A360 and A591 in England, the A82(T) in Scotland and the A470(T) in Wales, subject to planning permission.

Start Quote

The primary concern should be the provision of a quality service to rural areas before pursuing the title of fastest broadband in the world”

End Quote Julia Stent USwitch

Funding would come out of the £150m investment announced in the autumn statement.

The government will also consider whether direct intervention is required to improve mobile coverage for rail passengers.

Seb Lahtinen, co-founder of broadband news site Think Broadband, said the move was "part of a drive to ensure that not only is the UK the best in Europe in terms of broadband speeds, but can compete on an international stage against countries like South Korea".

"The announcement by the chancellor is a recognition of the fact that broadband technology underpins the economy as a whole, and in particular the digital content industries in this country," he added.

Others felt that money would be better spent in improving rural broadband.

"Whilst funding earmarked for ultra-fast broadband in 10 UK cities is both ambitious and heartening, and will undoubtedly benefit technology companies looking to develop and expand in the UK, the primary concern should be the provision of a quality service to rural areas before pursuing the title of fastest broadband in the world," said Julia Stent, director of telecoms at price comparison site Uswitch.

"Although there are still broadband blackspots and speed issues in some urban areas of the UK, we worry that the major towns and cities will speed ahead of the rest of the country in the premature quest to become fastest in the world."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    okay so someone's facebook page takes 0.2 secs to load up and a rural area it takes 3 seconds. Big deal.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    First time I can say the conservatives have made a good move here but I hope they don't miss out on towns receiving faster internet speeds..internet tv viewing is becoming the norm that's quite megabit hungry

    Also they need to roll out 4G soon as possible as handsets and tablets are becoming enabled on the market

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    @43. Rebecca Riot

    I'm currently on BT in a small south wales town and BT's infinity is available here as well as virgins super fast broadband in the more residential areas. The valleys usually have that problem although one of my local valleys are already getting FTTC rolled out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    @50.wressleturbine wrote

    "@Renegadeimp '..sadly, theres nothing worthwhile in Sheffield'

    PlusNet is one of Europe's most innovative ISPs based....in Sheffield!"

    Plusnet, a BT Group Business.

    ...do some basic research.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Yeah wonderful fantastic woo hoo and what about everyone else? what about those who still haven't got 1 or 2 meg Broadband? The WHOLE country needs faster communications and as usual those who live in rural areas who would probably benefit more for an increase in broadband speed (even just the option to actually have it!) are being completely ignored, as usual!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Out in depths of rural Wales Sunday bugs chewed through our telephone cable making internet extremely hit & miss. On enquiring about repairs I got into several arguments with BT call centre in Mumbai who insisted there was nothing wrong. But on summoning the pole men they reluctantly investigated admitting system was in ropey repair. If BT cannot maintain the wiring basics then what hope is there?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Why privatise an industry then still fund the infrastructure upgrades while the operators make all the profit? The government should make sure BT put the investment in to their infrastructure while obeying competition laws. Same with the railways. If you want to fund everything you may as well re-nationalise services so you can at least recoup some of the profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    30.cooldood37 - you say you'll never vote Tory again? Why were you stupid enough to vote for them in the first place, they've never been much good in government, it's just that the population is a bit too ignorant and kept in the dark to have a proper democracy! Labour pretty corrupt and undemocratic in practice, too. Lib Dems? Just shot away the third option with their brown-nosing of the Tories!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    @Renegadeimp '..sadly, theres nothing worthwhile in Sheffield'

    PlusNet is one of Europe's most innovative ISPs based....in Sheffield!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    This is a good move. It's nice to hear something positive on such a miserable news day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    dre169 (#36) - I think you have included us WEARSIDERS in your calculations there. Please don't tarnish us all with the tyneside brush!!!

    AsparagusTips is probably correct - Newcastle has a population of approx 270k, Sunderland has 285k. Newcastle isnt even the biggest city in the NE nevermind top 10 in the country!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Positive news, but this is fundamentally what the £30-£100bn should be spent on, instead of flushing it down the toilet on the ludicrous and unnecessary HS2 folly.

    Positive news for Regional rain up north from the budget though - Why did it take so long though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Two facts for Olivers Army and Asparagus Tips

    Fact 1: Leicester pop: 330k Tyneside pop (inc Newcastle): 880k

    Fact 2: Toon 5 Sunderland 1

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    £150m buys you next to nothing. And, all the equipment is foreign manufactured.

    A boost for the Chinese economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    37. PWHYD - Leicester is 10th and Newcastle is 24th. The BBC states the list includes Newcastle but not Leicester. Unless it is by geographical size, then Newcastle still does not make the top ten. I do however agree fully with 38 - forget the cities, invest in rural areas whose broadband is often less than 1Mbps

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    There is nothing super connected in Wales or ever will be. It is more like disconnected and getting worse

    Nothing in the budget for young people and not a sign of paid work on the horizon for any age groups. And there won't be until the government get the economy going again and they have certainly not done anything about that.

    I suggest the best cure is a kick up the coalition bottom!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    This government isn't visionary, it's missing a trick. Instead of installing 100Mbps infrastructure, why not 1000Mbps infrastructure? The equipment would cost a little more, but the labour only needs paying for once!
    @ Anyone with a rubbish home connection - get it professionally-diagnosed, then sue BT.
    @ Renegadeimp - Sheffield has Plusnet for a start - one of the more innovative home ISPs...

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I'm on 120Mbps in a small town near Birmingham. Most colleagues of mine in London get the same. This isn't new nor it is news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Not much point in thinking about what George said. Its all down to whats in the red book that he didnt say. The real news may well come in the morning


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