Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that 14 UK cities, including the four capitals, could become "super-connected cities" with a £100m investment to upgrade broadband access to between 80Mbit/s and 100Mbit/s.
London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast are automatically granted the status, while the remaining 10 will be chosen via a competition open to core areas with more than 150,000 dwellings, including Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield.
The restriction to these large cities is because the investment must allow for the attraction of new businesses into the area, so they must have a high population and a strong economy to make the most of the scheme.
The chosen cities will receive a major broadband infrastructure upgrade from BT and Virgin Media. Councils have until 13 February to submit proposals, and the final selection will be announced in the March Budget.
"The internet is now a fundamental part of our economy. We must ensure the UK has a broadband network fit for the digital age," said Hunt.
"Transforming communities into super-connected cities will enable them to compete with the world's top digital cities. It will help them attract new jobs and new investment and make the UK a place where digital businesses look to come."
The move is part of the government's plan to make the UK's broadband network the best in Europe by 2015. A total of £530m is being assigned to the project, with a further £300m to be made available by 2017. The £100m for super-connected cities is an additional investment.
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