The government has announced how it will share the money promised to 10 UK cities to allow them to create superfast broadband networks.
“These 10 cities have produced ambitious and comprehensive plans, which will turn them into digital leaders, and give their local economies a real boost,” she said.
Momentum/Digital Circle gave a good amount of (free) support to the Belfast bid when I wrote a manifesto paper on the definition of broadband and a ten pager on what could be done for local business, for local people and for innovation with a major investment in telecoms infrastructure.
Considering that a third of the population of Northern Ireland lives in the Belfast Metropolitan Area (which includes Lisburn and Bangor), it’s not a large amount of money and it’s important to mention that this level of investment needs to be made across Northern Ireland. And it is equally important for the cities who benefit to remember that they are not just cities, but they are the hubs of their region. Belfast, as the “capital” of Northern Ireland, has a responsibility to all of Northern Ireland.
And, like so many things, you can’t invest outside of Belfast based on per head of population when you are dealing with areas of the country which are remote or rural. It will take more investment to bring them up to 21st Century standards of broadband because they are already so far behind.
Derry is in the next list of cities to be considered for investment by central government. I think it would serve all of us well to consider how we can help them. It won’t arrive in time for City of Culture, but it may help extend the legacy of 2013.