Hull debates the future of digital connectivity

Hull debates the future of digital connectivity

A group of the region’s leading businesses came together at the Westwood Restaurant in Beverley to discuss digital connectivity in Hull.

The debate brought together business leaders and key decision makers to discuss the issues that currently surround the city’s digital connectivity.

It focused on the demand for choice in regard to service providers, the growth of Hull’s digital sector and the uptake of full-fibre to fulfil the needs of local businesses in the city.

Hull is in a unique position to other UK cities in that it has a relatively long-established fibre network thanks to earlier investment from KCOM and more recently, CityFibre.

The latter has seen the city achieve Gigabit City status; putting Hull in position for accelerated digital growth, increased inward investment and greater economic development.

In attendance at the debate were some of the region’s leading business leaders including:

·         Martin Kemp and Marc Lough from CityFibre

·         John Meehan, founder of Meehan Media & Comms

·         John Connolly from C4DI

·         Lindsey Nicklin from the University of Hull

·         Emma Warwick from Hull City Council

·         Glen Poskitt from Sewell Group

·         David Hooper from the Hull Chamber of Commerce

·         Adrian Bolster from PureSpeed

·         Gary King from Tendo chaired the event

The overarching question revolved around having a choice of connectivity providers in Hull which businesses can choose from.

Marc Lough from CityFibre said: “The three main benefits of competition are better quality of service, more aggressive pricing and more innovative service offerings.”

The Tech Nation 2017 report stated that there are nearly 7,000 digital jobs across Hull and over £250m gross value added from the digital sector to the city’s economy.

The debate highlighted the need for well-connected office spaces in Hull, with John Meehan of C4DI saying: “When I make a judgement about where I base my business, the connectivity would always be one of the first things I would look at and I know I’d pay a premium for it.”

Awareness of what is actually available to businesses in the region was also a topic raise.

David Hooper from the Hull Chamber of Commerce said: “Connectivity awareness is extremely important to make people understand what is available to them, but we also need to take into consideration whether people actually think about it when looking for new premises.

“Smaller businesses may look at how affordable the office space is and assume the connectivity they need will be there. There’s definitely a need to educate businesses about why they might be getting poor speed and how they can get a better one.”

In many cities across the UK transport infrastructure is much more important than digital infrastructure, but it was apparent from the debate that Hull has a different view on its infrastructure priorities.

Emma Warwick from the city council stated that “Transport and digital infrastructure are very much linked. Making our existing transport infrastructure work better with things like smart parking is very much reliant on ensuring we have the digital infrastructure in place to support it.”