Manchester falling behind other major UK cities in fibre broadband uptake

A study by think tank, Centre for Cities, has found the uptake of superfast broadband in Manchester, despite 96% fibre availability, sits at just 41% and is creating a digital divide.

On average the UK has a 51% gap between availability and uptake of fibre but in Manchester this sits at around 55% and puts Manchester 19th out of 62 UK cities. Aberdeen and Blackpool sit at the foot of the table with 60% of households still to make the move to fibre broadband. Aldershot, Brighton, Crawley and Gloucester sit at the top of the table with 39% of homes not yet connected to superfast.

The report provides some recommendations on how best the UK can take advantage of existing digital connectivity whilst delivering the new national communications infrastructure. Firstly it recommends the UK Government should ‘deliver on its promise to devolve responsibility for the Adult Skills Budget to cities’ to help residents learn the skills they need to adapt to working in a digitally connected economy. Secondly that cities should make better use of existing technology to ‘consider how they can use digital connections to innovate and transform public services'.

The report also made recommendations for the rollout of future digital infrastructure in the UK, particularly encouraging the National Planning Policy Framework to ‘require new housing developments to include provision of high quality digital infrastructure’ and this to cover both mobile and fixed line connectivity.

Andrew Carter, the Chief Executive for Centre for Cities, commented:

“The UK has invested significantly in becoming a global leader for digital infrastructure, but action is needed to ensure more people and businesses in cities across the country can benefit from this technology.

“Part of the problem is that cities need more powers and resources to address digital skills gaps in their communities. However, the onus is also on cities to learn from the innovations that some places are already pioneering, in using existing technology to transform public services.

“We also need a concerted effort from national and local leaders to ensure cities can provide the best possible built environment to deliver new digital infrastructure in the coming years, such as the rollout of full fibre and 5G.

“Other cities and countries across the world have ambitious plans to capitalise on digital technology – UK cities must do the same to compete with global counterparts as we leave the EU.”

A copy of the report can be found on the Centre for Cities website HERE

The report comes amid news that the UK has slipped to 35th in a global table of broadband speeds, whilst a National Infrastructure Commission report calls for full-fibre rollout across the UK by 2033 READ STORY.

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