Birmingham City Council broadband plans challenged by ICT giants

BT and Virgin Media have launched a legal challenge against Birmingham City Council’s plans to build a superfast broadband network.

The council had successfully applied for European Commission State Aid funding for the scheme.

It wants to build a 100+Mbps (megabits per second) broadband network to serve specific local areas including Digbeth, Eastside and the city’s Jewellery Quarter where many digital businesses are based and which are being marketed as ICT hubs.

Birmingham is one of the first European cities to acquire EC State Aid for a superfast broadband initiative and the council claims “up to 1,000 jobs” could be created by the project.

But Virgin Media said the plan “involves a significant overbuild” with its existing network.

“It’s disappointing that Birmingham City Council has put forward a scheme which is not in the interests of local people and we believe, as a result, the European Commission has made a decision based on inaccurate and misleading information which could waste public money,” it said.

Birmingham was on the original list of ten UK destinations set to benefit initially from a £100m UK government fund to create “super-connected” cities.