Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt confirms Norwich is eligible for “super-connected city” bid

Norwich is in the running to become one of 10 new 'super-connected cities' after its eligibility was confirmed for a share of a �50m fund to help install ultra-fast broadband.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday that the city was among 27 in the UK which could apply for the fund, aimed at providing internet speeds of 80-100Mbps (megabits per second).

Mr Hunt said it was a 'fantastic opportunity' for cities like Norwich to demonstrate how they would revolutionise the way their residents and businesses get online.

'These ultrafast speeds will allow more cities in the UK to compete with the fastest in the world, bringing new opportunities for growth, the development of high-tech industries and the transformation of public services,' he said.

To be able to bid, cities must have a Royal Charter and more than 45,000 homes and businesses, or more than 35,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland.

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Bidding cities will need to produce plans for how they will use the money and detailed guidance will be published by May 18. The winning cities will be announced in the autumn.

Alan Waters, deputy leader of Norwich City Council said: 'This is indeed an exciting announcement and a boost to our broadband is something we have been investigating for quite some time now. We wholeheartedly welcome any news which concerns investment in our city and look forward to receiving the further detail which has been promised for later in the month.'

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Successful projects will need to offer fixed ultra-fast broadband of at least 80-100Mbps as well as high-speed wireless connectivity.

The fund can only be used to support areas which will not be served by the private sector.

The first round of grants for super-connected status, announced in the last Budget, were awarded to large cities including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Alongside Norwich, the eligible cities for the second round of funding include Aberdeen, Cambridge, Coventry, Exeter, Leicester, Londonderry, Oxford, Peterborough, Southampton, Sunderland, Swansea, and York.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright said: 'This is brilliant news. I was very pleased that there was a pot of money announced in the budget for smaller cities to be eligible for superfast broadband funding.

'As soon as I found out about it, I put questions to the culture secretary to make sure Norwich fitted the criteria. We have got a definitive answer on that today. The capabilities and the functions provided by fast data connections are evolving incredibly fast right now and there are all sorts of services which households could get access to with these fast broadband speeds.'

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