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Homes and businesses in the Oxford Road area of Manchester will see their broadband access significantly improved after £500,000 of funding was pledged towards next-generation services.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is behind a pilot which aims to put super-fast broadband at the heart of an economic development drive in a project dubbed Corridor Manchester.

Some 500 firms and 1,000 households will be hooked up to the fibre-optic lines which will allow connection speeds of up to 100Mb.

"By providing high-speed broadband we can not only help the universities, schools and hospital network enhance their services but also attract new businesses to the city," explained Corridor Manchester chief executive Jackie Potter.

While David Carter, head of project co-ordinator Manchester Digital Development Agency, commented: "For Manchester to keep its competitive edge on the national and global stage, we need an effective high-speed broadband infrastructure."

The University of Manchester and the Manchester Metropolitan University will work with the NWDA, which has set a target date of 2020 to achieve its goals.

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