West Yorkshire: Speedy broadband bid to boost jobs and the economy

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Council chiefs in Wakefield are poised to invest more than £0.5m to bring super-fast broadband to West Yorkshire.

A report to the council’s cabinet meeting on November 20 is seeking approval for a maximum investment of £550,000 to bring high-speed internet connectivity to the district.

Investing in the West Yorkshire Local Broadband Plan would be dependent on the project securing European Regional Development Funding to match council contributions and the Government’s allocation of £6.34m through the Broadband UK initiative.

The Association of West Yorkshire Authorities agreed a county-wide broadband plan at the beginning of the year.

A project team based in Leeds City Council is co-ordinating proposals with officers from all five West Yorkshire councils.

Coun Denise Jeffery, deputy leader of Wakefield Council responsible for economic growth, said: “This is a really exciting project and will directly enable 14,000 premises and more than 1,4000 businesses to get super-fast internet connections by 2015.

“It is part of our strategy to match skills with job opportunities in the district and I look forward to this project progressing and bringing real benefits to local businesses.

“Even when council budgets are tight we have to keep our eyes on the future and we cannot afford to get left behind in technology if we are to encourage investment and more jobs.”

Earlier this month, regulator Ofcom fired the starting gun on the 4G auction, which promises to give customers super-fast internet searches, downloads and video streaming without the need for a fixed line.

Ofcom said the auction next year will be the UK’s biggest ever sale of mobile airwaves.

EE, the owner of T-Mobile and Orange, is currently the only mobile operator in the UK with enough spectrum to offer 4G capability. Its three rivals, O2’s parent Telefonica, Vodafone and Three, are expected to be the frontrunners for additional frequencies as demand for mobile broadband grows. selling 3G frequencies.

Andy Thorburn of EMIS

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