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City-Wide Wireless Broadband to Cover Manchester
By: MarkJ - 29 July, 2008 (1:51 PM)

Manchester City Council has announced further plans to enhance its existing 'Digital Strategy' by extending the Eastserve wireless (Wi-Fi) broadband service across the entire city. The Strategy itself aims to ensure that all residents have access to "universal, affordable next generation broadband access".

The Eastserve project was set up in 2000 to bridge the digital divide in East Manchester by improving access to information and communication technology (ICT) for local residents. In 2003 the project developed a community wireless broadband internet network in response to the fact that according to the survey undertaken in 2001 a quarter of local residents reported not having a telephone landline, a figure they fear has risen to above 50%.

Today the service has connected over 3,500 people the wireless network, which offers speeds of up to 4Mbps with pricing starting at just 6 per month for a basic 150Kbps connection and 20 for a 2Mbps link:

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "I very much welcome this new development. Manchester has a very strong track record of putting together imaginative partnerships with the private sector and then using these to bring real local benefits to residents and businesses across the city. This proposed joint venture will help to make Manchester a world-class digital city and help to ensure that all our residents can benefit from the opportunities being created by the digital world."

Now the City Council has launched a tender process to seek a joint venture partner to enhance the existing Eastserve service and to extend this across all of the other regeneration areas eventually providing city-wide coverage. Further details can be found on their Digital Strategy (MDDA) page.

During March this year the same strategy outlined plans for the development of an open broadband network using next-gen 'Fibre to the Premises' (FTTP) technology.

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