Birmingham starts faster broadband race

By on 06/07/2011 in News

Birmingham is set to build on its reputation as a leading digital city after unveiling ambitions to establish a Fourth Generation (4G) wireless network that will deliver superfast mobile broadband capacity across the city.

In a report going before city councillors on Monday (July 11),  Cabinet is being asked to approve the development of a project which aims to establish commercial opportunities and benefits by accelerating the deployment of a 4G wireless network across the city.

Under the plans, the council would team up with a partner from the private sector to establish a city-wide high-speed wireless service network - offering a major boost for Birmingham's businesses and citizens.

In 2010, there were around 5,000 million global mobile phone users compared with just 739 million in 2000.

This soaring demand for mobile data access, driven by the dramatic growth in the use of mobile technologies such as smart phones and tablets, is placing unprecedented demands on existing 3G networks, with 4G technologies seen as the long-term solution to satisfying this demand.

The 4G wireless network has the potential to offer fast, high capacity connectivity that will act as a catalyst for enhancing and achieving efficiencies in the way services are delivered affording low carbon and social mobility opportunities as well as providing the potential to generate income for the city.

4G technologies could act as a launch pad for the creation of new applications and sophisticated data services, and in doing so not only support business growth and improve inward investment prospects, but also bridge the digital divide enabling the delivery of more personalised services to some of the city's most vulnerable citizens.

Currently large areas of Birmingham have poor access to high speed broadband - only half have a download speed of 15 megabits per second (Mbps). Under the plans drawn up by Digital Birmingham, potential suppliers will be invited to work with the city to establish the business opportunities for creating a city-wide 4G network that would make use of council property assets to house the transmission equipment.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and chair of the Digital Birmingham partnership, said: “The way people live their lives, and the way businesses operate has changed dramatically thanks to technology.

“This is placing a huge strain on existing wireless broadband networks, so we are keen to get ahead of the curve - it isn't about the council becoming a mobile phone or network operator, it's about teaming up with organisations that have the know-how, so we can bring 4G to Birmingham as soon as possible along with a commercial benefit for the city.

“Doing this underlines our commitment to making Birmingham a leading digital city, and offers us a potential source of income in the current tough economic times.”

Traditionally wireless telecommunications networks such as 2G and 3G have been built by big-name suppliers such as Vodafone and Orange, often using council assets to house equipment, based on their own investment cycles and deployment plans.

Under the proposals before Cabinet, the council would be able to accelerate the process by choosing a project partner to maximise the opportunities available.

If the outline proposals are supported on Monday, it is expected the network would be fully operational by 2014, enabling Birmingham to take an early lead in the race for 4G technologies, ready to exploit the benefits this will bring.


Notes to Editors

Digital Birmingham is a Birmingham City Council initiative, established in 2006 as the driving force to ensure that the benefits of digital and emerging technologies are available to all in the city. It is promoting the city’s reputation as a leading global digital city, a centre for investment and growth, as well as a great place to live, learn and work.

Birmingham is a Smart 21 Community: Officially recognised as one of the world’s top 21 intelligent community by global thinktank, the Intelligent Community Forum.

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. John Connelly says:

    Typo: ‘20001’, unless the council really do plan ahead’

    • KrisK says:


      Well spotted – that was due to a footnote not being recognised by our system. It should have read 2000, as it now does – and I have removed the footnote to avoid any further confusion.

      The main thrust of the statistic still stands.


  2. John Connelly says:


    4G is impressive forward thinking.

    Hats off to the council.