Manchester to go down the NGA route
Digital Region is not alone. Manchester City Council recently agreed to pursue a strategy of intervention to bring next generation broadband (in the form of a fibre to the home network) to Manchester, as part of a wider digital strategy for the city-region.
The plan will see the Oxford Road area used as a test-bed, covering 400 residential properties and 50 businesses, before a phased rollout elsewhere in the area, and was agreed by the Council’s Executive in March (you can read the report here). It aims to see ‘significant progress on implementation’ of the initial rollout phase during 2008/09.
On the heels on Digital Region, and with other authorities in the UK examining investment in NGA, Manchester is seeking to be a UK exemplar, providing knowledge and learned experience for other authorities in the UK. It is the lead authority in the DC10plus group on its ‘next generation connectivity’ workstream, and it hopes that its experiences will assist other UK authorities.
It is not just local authorities that can learn from Manchester and others, however, but broadband providers too. In the UK it is often cited that there is a lack of evidence of willingness to pay amongst consumers, and little or no evidence of applications and services that require the bandwidth provided by superfast broadband. Evidence will begin to emerge, however, from projects such as this.
Digital Region, the Ebbsfleet development, Manchester and others that are considering next generation broadband will provide valuable evidence for both public and private organisations, increasing the understanding of the market and allowing better-informed investment decisions.