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Capital gets Gigabit City boost

Firms urged to join Edinburgh’s digital revolution

Ricky NicolBusinesses in Edinburgh were last night urged to get involved in shaping Edinburgh’s digital revolution.

A 90-mile future-proof pure fibre network will create a “Gigabit City” and make it one of the best digitally-connected locations in the world.

Over the coming months, digital infrastructure builder CityFibre, in partnership with Edinburgh-based internet service provider Commsworld, will begin construction of a network called the Edinburgh CORE.

The first phase of the new ultra-fast network stretches from the city centre down to Leith. Businesses will begin to benefit from the network later this summer.

City councillor Frank Ross, convener of the economy committee, last night urged businesses in the city to ensure they played their part in the development.

Speaking at the launch event at the Apex Hotel in Grassmarket, he said: “I want all businesses to register to influence this process. The earlier you get involved the more influence you will have.”

Apex Hotels, which has four hotels in Edinburgh, is one of the first to register.

Andrew Jacques, IT Director at the group, said: “Apex Hotels was one of the first hotels to offer free Wi-Fi in 2008 and we’ve been working hard to provide fast and reliable internet connectivity to our guests ever since.

“Internet connectivity is of paramount importance to our guests who often bring five or six connected devices when they stay with us, so we’re delighted to be in phase one of the Gigabit City project and able to offer free ultrafast broadband from later this year.”

The precise network route of the Edinburgh CORE will be influenced by demand and CityFibre has now launched its ‘Gig Up Edinburgh’ campaign enabling businesses and institutions to register their interest in ultra-fast internet connectivity on the edinburghcore.com website.

Registration is no obligation to take service, but means the registered business’s location will be factored into the network plan. Registered businesses will also be checked for eligibility for a government voucher scheme* which offers grants of up to £3,000 for businesses to connect.

The Edinburgh CORE will be designed using CityFibre’s ‘Well Planned City’ model, which accommodates all current and future bandwidth requirements from the business community, public sector, mobile operators and datacentre providers. It also lays the infrastructure foundation for a full fibre to the home roll-out in due course.

The Edinburgh CORE will be a major catalyst to the growth of Edinburgh’s substantial digital economy. It is estimated that close to 18,000 people are directly employed in the city’s technology sector, which has a yearly growth rate of about 33%.

Despite this growing industry and the city’s established financial services sector, a survey published earlier this week by CityFibre found 31% of companies have regular concerns about the negative impact poor internet access has on their business.

Some 40% of respondents said poor internet connections had a negative impact on their company while 65% said it would cause a drop in office productivity.

A further 42% said it would affect their ability to grow and 69% said their customer service standards would suffer as a result. Worryingly, many companies (47%) felt that poor internet would adversely affect their decision to invest in new technology such as cloud services.

CityFibre’s city development manager James McClafferty said: “Edinburgh is one of the most economically significant cities in the UK. Its reputation as an established financial hub is complemented as it is increasingly becoming the location of choice for a new generation of tech start-ups and innovative businesses.

“As businesses of all types become more digitally reliant, they can be confident that there will be a world-class digital network – the Edinburgh CORE – to support them. As we plan the rollout it is essential that businesses register on our website to ensure that the network reaches them and that it delivers maximum benefit to the city’s business community.”

Ricky Nicol, founder and chief executive of Commsworld, added: “This is a project of huge significance for the city and one that will future proof Edinburgh for many years to come. The Edinburgh CORE will enable Commsworld to offer a new generation of affordable, Gigabit business services that will transform the way our city does business.

“As planning is well under way, I would urge any business that wants a digital headstart and a competitive advantage to register their interest online. With no obligation to take services it will ensure you won’t get left behind.”

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