As the city of Leeds celebrates its first anniversary as a Gigabit City, we take a look at the Gigabit promise and where ultra-fast connectivity has taken the city one year on.
The city of Leeds boasts a number of impressive accolades when it comes to its credentials as one of the best locations in the UK to live and do business. Not only has it been named the UK’s fastest growing city and the best for quality of life, its unemployment levels are consistently low year-on-year, and average earnings are around 6 per cent higher than the UK national average.
What’s more, Leeds is now home to one of the UK’s largest Gigabit City networks, bolstering its position as the digital hub of the north. Launched by CityFibre, the UK’s leading alternative infrastructure provider, on 26 April 2016, the new full-fibre network promises to transform the city from the inside out – future proofing its digital capabilities, driving economic growth and boosting competitiveness and productivity across local enterprise.
Lighting up Leeds
To date, 117km of world class, gigabit speed infrastructure has been built across the city of Leeds and more than 100 businesses and public sector sites including schools, libraries and hospitals have ordered services via local telecoms providers Diva Telecom and Exa Networks.
This can only be good news for a city that prides itself on its reputation for digital innovation. Going by the latest Tech Nation report from Tech City UK, Leeds is in great shape to benefit from digital growth with 92% of respondents rating digital growth optimism as good and annual digital tech start-ups numbered at an average of 314 per year.
The likes of The Ricci Group, Parallax and GDS Link are amongst those already benefiting from connectivity speeds up to 100 times faster than the UK national average, helping them to position their businesses and services for future growth and competitiveness.
Keith Hale, managing director at GDS Link, said: “We saw huge improvements in our productivity after just a couple of weeks of being connected to the gigabit network. It’s given us the ability to experience a whole new level of internet capabilities – we were expecting it to be amazing and it lives up to our expectations.”
It’s not just city centre businesses who have benefited from CityFibre’s investment in Leeds - rural areas to the north of the city, including the village of Eltofts, have access to the Gigabit Leeds network after working with Diva Telecom to secure their own dedicated connection.
As a result, 12 Eltofts sites now have one of the fastest rural business broadband connections in the world, benefiting from upload and download speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second.
Professor Simon Kay, the world-renowned plastic surgeon who lives in Eltofts, said: “One of the most significant improvements for me is that I’m now able to do multi-participant HD video conferencing with other surgeons around the world from my office at home, something that was never possible before.”
Andy Wright, technical manager of the Eltofts project commented: “We’ve experienced incomprehensible improvement and it has made a huge impact on all our lives. A fast and reliable connection is now a necessity for businesses and like many rural communities, we were being left in the dark ages.”
What does all this mean for Leeds?
Leeds’ Gigabit City transformation and the continued expansion of its digital community means the city is now well established as the digital hub of the Northern Powerhouse.
This will not only support the City Council’s new 2020 Growth Strategy by attracting new investment and much needed talent, it will reinforce the city’s longstanding reputation as a great place to live, work and study. Excitement and positivity have become synonymous with the digital tech industry and this is certain to bring vibrancy to Leeds’ commercial and academic communities.
This is of course cause for celebration – it’s no coincidence that the city’s one-year Giga-versary coincides with Leeds Digital Week which this year falls 22 to 29 April. To mark the occasion, CityFibre hosted the official launch of Leeds Digital Week with festival director Stuart Clarke where guests enjoyed a networking drinks reception and hosted connectivity discussion.
For more information about CityFibre and Leeds’ Gigabit City project, visit: www.cityfibre.com/leeds