Plans are under way to transform Newcastle into one of the UK’s first super-connected cities in a move that will boost the area’s economy by a predicted £150m.
Go Digital Newcastle, a Government scheme delivered by Newcastle City Council, will see 97% of the city given access to superfast broadband by the summer of 2015.
The initiative will also see free wi-fi provided in the city centre and on the Metro system; a Cloud Innovation Centre at Science Central; a business support programme covering everything from business planning to marketing, and vouchers worth up to £3,000 to help businesses get connected.
Council leader Cllr Nick Forbes said: “The economic benefits to the city will be significant and further cement Newcastle’s reputation as an exciting place to live and work. Go Digital Newcastle will boost the local economy and help create and protect local jobs.”
The initiative, launched at Newcastle’s Centre for Life yesterday, comes shortly after the publication of SQW’s UK Broadband Impact Study, which concluded that for every £1 invested in broadband by Government, the UK economy will benefit by £20.
And, while recent research shows many North East SMEs are yet to fully embrace the digital world, the region’s tech companies are now gaining national acclaim – helping to establish Newcastle as a major digital hub.
Go Digital Newcastle is supported by around £9m of public funding, with BT being awarded the contract to deploy fibre broadband across the city.
Digital pioneer Herb Kim, of Thinking Digital, told those gathered at the launch that it was “another part of the rapidly developing story” of the region’s tech accomplishments.
For more details, see www.godigitalnewcastle.co.uk