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A Digitally Connected City - Enabled for Future Growth

Published: Monday, 6th March 2023

Birmingham City Council is aiming to accelerate full fibre coverage across the city.

The council has approved a proposal that will provide better digital coverage for businesses, with faster speed and lower costs.

A new full-fibre digital network will target the underserved areas of the city in partnership with a telecommunications partner, ensuring that any business located in Birmingham will have access to the high levels of connectivity they need to develop and innovate their products and services.

The West Midlands Tech Sector is expected to generate at least £2.7 billion for the local economy by 2025. It is home to 18,394 start-ups and more incubators and accelerators than any other city outside London, has the fastest growing tech sector and has the largest 5G test bed across the UK. In order to attract and retain this investment for Birmingham, we need to ensure that we can provide the right infrastructure for them to flourish.

The full-fibre network complements the work with telecomms partners on the first Open Access agreements allowing providers to use council lampposts to host so-called ‘small cells’. These add greater network coverage and device connection capacity for mobile networks where large masts alone cannot meet user needs. The council has successfully completed the signing of the first contracts that will speed up access to the city assets, resulting in faster deployment of 5G across the city.

Councillor Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism, said: “We saw during the pandemic how businesses innovated and developed new digital services to deliver their products and services. Providing them with access to full fibre connectivity will enable them to continue to innovative and increase their sustainable economic growth opportunities through increased business productivity.   

“This became apparent when we consulted with businesses and stakeholders.  It will deliver both faster speeds and lower costs, which in turn will support access to a wider range of services for residents, especially for housebound and deprived households as well as businesses.

“We welcome the current digital investments being made by the commercial sector, but we recognise that we need more pace and urgency to ensure our businesses have access to the best possible infrastructure, enabling them to innovate and retain their competitive advantage.”

The deployment of full fibre across the city has been identified as one of the key foundations within the Digital City Roadmap, which sets out the city’s ambitions for establishing Birmingham as a leading international digital city by attracting increased digital investment, establishing Birmingham as a testbed for innovation and experimentation, under the Digital Birmingham brand.

Note to Editors

Digital Birmingham is the city’s brand that showcases the city’s digital credentials and reputation as  a leading digital city  (www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk). It is supported by the Birmingham Digital Partnership, a combination of private and public organisations, who champion Birmingham’s ambition as a leading digital city and promote Digital Birmingham nationally and internationally, attracting investment and support from business and government, to accelerate sustainable economic growth and address some of the city’s grand challenges through digital, technology and data enablement.

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