Work to start on superfast web connection

Greg Mesch of City Fibre. Picture: Toby Williams

Greg Mesch of City Fibre. Picture: Toby Williams

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THOUSANDS of businesses across the Capital are to be plugged into a new fibre network providing internet speeds 100 times faster than currently available.

Work on the multi-million-pound project is due to begin next month, with the first of 7000 businesses benefiting from June and July.

The scheme, by CityFibre and Commsworld, has been announced amid concern that existing networks are struggling to cope with increasing demand.

Technology chiefs also stressed the benefits of the project would outweigh any disruption caused by roadworks.

Richard Nicol, chief executive of Commsworld, said the planned network had “huge significance” and would bring “hundreds of millions of pounds” into the city annually. He added that it had already been rolled out successfully in cities such as York and Peterborough.

The network route will be determined by demand and CityFibre has launched a “Gig Up Edinburgh” campaign, which enables businesses and institutions to register an interest in joining.

James McClafferty, City-Fibre’s city development manager, 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 planning is well under way, I would urge any business that wants a digital headstart and a competitive advantage to register their interest online.”

City-based businesses likely to benefit from the roll-out include Skyscanner and Rockstar North, which do most of their trading online.

It is estimated that close to 18,000 people are directly employed in the city’s tech cluster, which has a yearly growth rate of 33 per cent.

But despite this expansion and Edinburgh’s established financial services sector, a recent survey revealed 31 per cent of companies were concerned about the effect of poor internet access.

Under the plans, nearly 100 miles of fibre network will be laid, with 30 miles put down in the city centre during the first phase of the roll-out.

A spokesman for CityFibre said the project would “very rarely” lead to road closures, adding that construction teams were unlikely to spend more than a few days in any street.

Councillor Frank Ross, economy leader, described the investment as “great news”, adding: “This fits well with our aspiration that Edinburgh becomes one of the UK’s best digitally connected cities.”

One of the first businesses to register its interest is Apex Hotels. Andrew Jacques, IT director at the company, said: “Internet connectivity is of paramount importance to our guests who often bring five or six connected devices when they stay with us.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com