A Digitally Connected City – Enabled for Future Growth

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

The proposal has been approved by the council. The improved coverage will provide businesses with faster speeds at lower costs.

A brand new full-fibre network will target underserved areas of the city. Working with a telecommunications partner, the project will ensure that all businesses in Birmingham will have access to the high levels of connectivity necessary for them to develop and grow.

Birmingham is a hub of innovation and with the West Midlands Tech Sector expected to generate at least £2.7 billion for the local economy by 2025, it is easy to see why. It is also home to 18,394 start-ups as well as more incubators and accelerators than any other city outside of London. The tech industry is a major contributor to this as Birmingham is home to the fastest growing tech sector and the largest 5G test bed across the UK. Attracting and retaining this investment will support the city to thrive therefore we must ensure that we can provide the infrastructure to facilitate businesses 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 ‘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 signed 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 is one of the key foundations of the Digital City Roadmap. The roadmap sets out a path to achieving the city’s ambitions of establishing Birmingham as a leading international digital city under the Digital Birmingham brand. This means attracting digital investment, establishing Birmingham as a testbed for innovation and experimentation.