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CityFibre has enlisted local ISPs Diva Telecom and Exa Networks to work on commercialising a 200km network in Leeds and Bradford. When the project is completed, businesses in the cities will have access to gigabit fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband.
Up to now both Leeds and Bradford have been relatively poorly served with a shortage of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services, limiting the potential of smaller businesses that tend to be unable to afford leased line services.
CityFibre is currently ramping up a major expansion of its Gigabit City programme after acquiring the national network of KCOM in December 2015. Both Leeds and Bradford were hooked up as part of this deal, which set CityFibre back £90m.
CEO Greg Mesch said the advent of FTTP in Leeds and Bradford would support the wider aims of the so-called Northern Powerhouse scheme by enabling digital-based businesses to flourish across the region.
Elsewhere in Yorkshire, CityFibre already offers services in Huddersfield, while in York it is currently testing a consumer service through partner TalkTalk, called Ultra Fibre Optic, or UFO.
“As Gigabit Cities, Leeds and Bradford will be on the digital front foot, able to compete and succeed in a digital world,” said Mesch.
“We have invested more than £70m in next generation digital infrastructure across the north. Businesses in Leeds and Bradford will now be able to capitalise on this to build better-connected and more innovative companies.”
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David Cawthray, assistant director of information services at the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, said: “This announcement is great news for Bradford. Reliable, ultrafast gigabit speed connectivity is crucial for businesses across the city to compete on the national and international stage.
“Bradford will be able to set itself alongside the most digitally advanced locations in Europe, allowing the council to further our digital agenda quicker than ever before. We are delighted to see CityFibre continue its investment in Yorkshire.”
Leeds City Council deputy leader James Lewis added: “High-speed internet connectivity allows businesses to become more efficient and productive, and to make the most of the latest advances in cloud computing and remote working, so this investment is important in underpinning our ongoing economic growth.”
Leeds claims to be home to more than 1,350 digital companies already, with 10,000 people employed in the sector.
CityFibre’s announcement coincides with the beginning of the five-day Leeds Digital Festival, which is running a number of events across the city on 25 - 29 April 2016.
These include Gnome Street Gnome, a hands-on coding workshop that will create interactive animatronics using Raspberry Pi computers, as well as networking opportunities and seminars on topics such as big data, security, startups and women in IT.