1. ITV Report

Newcastle set to become 'super-connected'

Plans to bring super-fast broadband to Newcastle Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

Newcastle City Council have launched plans to become one of the UK's first 'super-connected' cities. They hope the scheme will boost the city's economy by £150 million.

Go Digital Newcastle, would see the majority of the city given access to superfast fibre broadband by 2015, free Wi-Fi in Newcastle City Centre and on the Metro, a cloud computing centre and a business support programme.

According to the UK Broadband Impact Study published this year every £1 invested in broadband by government the UK economy will benefit by £20.

Council leader Cllr Nick Forbes said: "Superfast broadband can help turn local heroes into superheroes - our city-based businesses can use the faster speeds to reach new markets and products and compete on both a national and international scale.

"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."

Local businesses, charities and social enterprises are being urged to sign up for a connection voucher worth up to £3,000. They will also be able to benefit from a free business support programme offering digital master classes and workshops.

Wifi could be available in central Newcastle Credit: Daniel Law/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, said the city needs to be at the heart of the digital economy.

"Good connections bring huge benefits to people both in their work and in their home life - in today's fast-moving world, they're a necessity rather than a luxury," she said.

"They will make Newcastle even more attractive to organisations looking for a base with world-class connections, while enhancing the activities of our local businesses, helping create and safeguard jobs."

Herb Kim is chief executive of Sunderland-based digital media innovator Codeworks and founder and director of the North East's annual Thinking Digital conference. He says that with broadband speed is everything.

"At the Thinking Digital Conference, we've seen example after example about the positive impact that broadband connectivity has made all around the world," says Mr Kim.

"And in the case of broadband speed and capacity, faster is definitely better.

"Faster broadband means our businesses can be more competitive, our research more intensive and our collaboration made all the easier. It is the fundamental foundation for a 21st Century economy."