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Birmingham city centre ditching fibre broadband for WiFi

Birmingham town elders have announced plans to improve WiFi access in the city centre after fibre broadband rollout had to be ditched.

Areas including Victoria Square, Moor Street, High Street and New Street will benefit from free WiFi rollout as will St. Philip’s Cathedral and the new library. 

The news comes after it was revealed that the Super Connected Cities plan and Urban Broadband Fund (UBF), which would have seen local councils spend public money on fixed-line broadband improvements, is being redrawn. Money will be instead spent on rolling out public WiFi and a vouchers for local businesses to spend on broadband connections. 

Birmingham city centre ditching fibre broadband for WiFi
Birmingham’s iconic Town Hall in Victoria Square. Free WiFi to go with your bunting.

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Super-Connected Cities and the Urban Broadband Fund A report in BBC News says that the local council will discuss plans on July 15. Councillor James McKay said:

“Offering free wi-fi in the city centre will help us bridge the digital divide, enabling more people to get online, while supporting economic growth and inward investment as Birmingham becomes a better place to do business.”

Edinburgh was the first of the Super Connected Cities to announce plans to eschew fibre broadband in favour of public WiFi. This was before the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which oversees the UBF, announced changes to the plan. 

The full list of cities that will benefit from extra broadband funding is:

Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Derry/Londonderry, Edinburgh, London, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Newport, Oxford, Perth, Portsmouth, Salford, and York.

Image credit: Flickr user ell brown