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Council delighted by superfast broadband bid success

05/12/12

Aberdeen City Council is delighted to have been named as a successful bidder for a share of the 50million Super Connected Cities funding.

Computers. Hugely improved broadband speeds and 4G wifi coverage are now firmly on the cards for the North-east, helping to secure jobs, investment and new business growth.

Broadband speeds in the city and parts of Aberdeenshire could be increased ten-fold in the space of a few years, providing huge benefits for companies, individuals and public services, including health and education.

The award was announced today by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Barney Crockett said: "This is fantastic news for Aberdeen and the North-east. I am delighted that the UK Government has recognised how important it is for Aberdeen to have this type of infrastructure. Superfast broadband will bring enormous benefits, not only to the business community, but to individuals and the public sector as well."

"Aberdeen is an economic driver for the whole of the UK and second only to Houston, Texas, as a world energy city. Superfast broadband is essential to maintaining that position and continuing to attract and retain international business. "I think today's announcement recognises the economic importance of the North-east to the UK as a whole and is extremely important for the region."

Aberdeen City Council chief executive Valerie Watts, joint chair of the Aberdeen City and Shire Digital Connectivity Board, said: "I am really pleased that our bid has succeeded and the importance of this area being properly connected is recognised by Central Government.

"Our bid was about bringing together the North-east as a digital hub, a place where you can do business anywhere and at any time. We are a global energy city looking to the future and to build on the fantastic resources and business opportunities we have, as well as venturing into new and developing areas such as low carbon, renewables and hydrogen industries

"Aberdeen City Council is really serious about securing world-class connectivity and maintaining our place as a leading world energy city. We will now work closely with our partners and the private sector to improve speeds and make broadband and wifi access in this area fit for purpose as quickly as possible."

Fraser Forsyth, Conservative group leader, added: "This successful bid helps Aberdeen reaffirm its status as one of Britain's leading cities for business."

The council's bid followed on from research carried out by ACSEF into broadband provision across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, which have the highest UK broadband uptake rates at 74% and 72% of the population respectively. Public and private sector investment and a share of the Urban Broadband Fund will be used to increase that to 80mbps across the entire city – compared to the Scottish Government's target of 40mbps across 75% of premises.

The bid document, Accelerate Aberdeen, revealed that most business and residential users in the area had limited services, with the overwhelming majority supported with a maximum bit rate of 7.15mbps, but often receiving much less because the infrastructure is frequently overloaded, resulting in much lower connection speeds than advertised.

Many large businesses seeking to locate in the region's major business parks and development corridors require access to world-class ultrafast digital infrastructure to enable them to compete on an international basis. Keyboard.

Accelerate Aberdeen states: "A number of key business centres suffer from a lack of supply of competitive infrastructure and are not receiving the speeds, choice of service and quality that the businesses require to compete effectively on an international basis. Unless these failures are addressed, Aberdeen runs the risk of declining competitiveness and will not receive the social and economic boost that next generation broadband services have been demonstrated to deliver to the detriment of the region and the taxation income to the nation."

ACSEF development manager Rita Stephen said: "ACSEF's research showed that a lack of high speed broadband left the North-east at risk of declining competitiveness and less attractive to business. The Chancellor's announcement today is a great step forward for the area and shows that Aberdeen city and shire are recognised as key economic drivers for the UK.

"The provision of superfast broadband in the area will not only boost business confidence in the North-east and make it an ever-more attractive area in which to do business, but will also go a long way to offset the disadvantage of being remote from other UK and European business centres."

It is expected that the provision of ultrafast broadband across the city will help to: accelerate economic growth and create employment; provide access to faster and more flexible digital infrastructure; support the delivery of education services; and enable more cost-effective delivery of public services including tele-medicine and social care.

Aberdeen City Council's bid attracted letters of support from the business community, including the Federation of Small Businesses, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, ACSEF, Aberdeen BID, Enerco Venture, as well as from Members of Parliament.

The procurement process will get underway in the coming weeks, with a view to having the new infrastructure in place within 18 months.