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Council Cabinet Set To Approve Funding To Improve Superfast Broadband Coverage

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The Coventry City Council Cabinet are set to approve a capital investment of up to £2.55 million in the city’s internet broadband infrastructure.

The recommendation has been made in a council report that will be presented to cabinet tomorrow.  If approved, the recommendation will go before the full council in December.

Coventry’s broadband coverage currently lags behind that of similar areas. Superfast broadband – connections over 20Mpbs – are available in just 91.7% of properties in Coventry which compares poorly to areas and is a long way from the government target for 95% of properties to have superfast broadband by 2017. Birmingham, Derby and Leicester are in the top 40 for broadband speeds, while Coventry is 74th out of 185.

European funding is being made available to improve superfast broadband infrastructure that serves small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This funding will target areas containing concentrations of SMEs, but will not serve them exclusively; residents and larger businesses will also benefit as the infrastructure in the target areas improves as a result of the project. Ultimately the project will help the city improve its superfast broadband coverage considerably as part of its Digital Strategy which is under development will be formally adopted by the end of 2016. In order to access this funding, the council must provide match funding.

Coventry’s contribution to an overall £15m package of improvements across Coventry and Warwickshire would be £2.55m. As well as a European grant of £4.86m, Growth Deal funding of £4.3m has been requested from Government. The project will be completed by the established Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire Broadband Project (CSW Broadband).

The report describes broadband provision as a ‘4th utility’ and suggests that without public sector support, telecommunications companies would not invest in the wholesale broadband network across all areas of the city because of the limited return on investment. The report concludes that without public sector intervention parts of the city will increasingly become digitally divided with business losing competitive advantage and residents unable to take advantage of the financial, educational, social and health benefits of being online.

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