Cambridgeshire businesses will benefit from a successful bid for over £5 million extra Government funding to make Cambridge and its surrounding economic area ‘super connected’ with faster broadband.
The award of up to £5.2million for Super Connected Cambridge has been announced today as part of the Government’s £150 million Urban Broadband Funding for Super Connected Cities.
The additional investment will complement the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme to boost broadband connectivity countywide.
The extra funding will help small and medium sized businesses in and around the city with one-off payments towards the cost of connecting to high-speed broadband through a new voucher scheme to be launched later this year.
It will also improve high speed wireless services by targeting Wi-Fi ‘not spots’ to increase wireless coverage across Cambridge and its surrounding economic area. Wireless providers will be invited to tender for a concession as part of a procurement process starting later this year.
The Super Connected Cambridge plan has been developed by Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, along with the greater Cambridge business and academic community to drive economic growth by boosting business connectivity.
Super Connected Cambridge is part of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme to improve the digital infrastructure for homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by the end of 2015.
Better connectivity will enhance and spread the impact of Cambridge and the surrounding area for technology, innovation and enterprise across the county to boost the local economy.
Welcoming the announcement, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning said: “This is great news for Cambridgeshire. The Super Connected Cambridge plan will allow us to drive forward economic growth and support thriving, connected communities with local business and local authorities working together to achieve sustainable long-term benefits.
“The extra funding will allow our businesses to improve their connectivity so they can maintain their position at the forefront of global scientific and technological advances and enable the economic success enjoyed by Cambridge to permeate into the surrounding area.”
Councillor Sarah Brown, Cambridge City Council, Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing, said:
“Cambridge is a major driver of the economy in East Anglia, and is at the forefront of high tech industry. This project will help ensure that the city remains at that cutting edge. The new ways of working that next generation connectivity speeds offer will have significant effects on how people in the city live and work.”
Cllr Nick Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning and economic development, said:
“This funding award is very welcome news for businesses and communities on the edge of Cambridge. South Cambridgeshire and the City are thriving business locations and one of our top priorities as a council is to support companies so they can grow, create more jobs and maintain our position as one of the best locations for firms to set up and be successful.”
Confirming the funding for Super Connected Cambridge and announcing a market consultation about the voucher scheme, Ed Vaizey UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said:
“The broadband market is moving at an incredible pace. Today, businesses expect and demand faster and faster broadband to compete in the global race. Connection vouchers will be an important tool for cities in helping to address that demand.
“The aim is to provide the step change in connectivity that is needed for the UK to remain competitive in the 21st century digital marketplace. As part of that we are determined that the voucher scheme should generate maximum competition amongst ISPs to provide the connectivity solutions that businesses need.”