Eamonn Boylan

AGMA bids for broadband funding

A public consultation was launched on Monday to ask people where investment is needed for improved access to broadband across Greater Manchester.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities is applying for £4.9m of European funding as well as Government cash from the Broadband Delivery UK programme to deliver infrastructure that would allow every home and business in the area to be able to access broadband speeds of at least two megabits per second, and 90% or more of premises to access superfast broadband, more than 30Mbps.

Eamonn Boylan, Stockport Council's chief executive, and AGMA broadband project lead, said: "Greater Manchester's ambition is to become one of the world's top 20 digital cities by 2020. Reliable, high-speed broadband access is becoming increasingly important for homes, businesses and public services. However, the availability of broadband services and speeds vary significantly.

"This public consultation is designed to ensure we fully understand the areas that have gaps in broadband infrastructure and are eligible for public investment. We are asking broadband suppliers, businesses and residents to comment on the proposed target areas, so that we can make sure the provision of superfast broadband is more widespread than it would otherwise be without our intervention."

The consultation covers eight of the metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester. The city council areas of Manchester and Salford are subject to different arrangements for funding, and are not part of the current consultation.

With the help of information from broadband suppliers, AGMA has created maps which illustrate areas where superfast broadband infrastructure, and basic broadband infrastructure, does not currently exist and where commercial providers do not intend to roll out such a service within the next three years.

The consultation aims to verify the information provided in these maps so that public funding can be used to provide the necessary infrastructure.

The proposed investment means that once delivered, the majority of businesses or residents wanting to take up a superfast broadband contract will be able to do so, regardless of where they live.

To find out more and take part in the consultation visit: www.tfgm.com/GMBroadbandConsultation. The closing date for responses is Thursday 1 August 2013.

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UPDATE: adds amount of ERDF bid

By Ed

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