Background

For Exeter’s leading provider of coworking spaces, The Generator, CityFibre’s full fibre 1Gbps circuit is providing both the download and upload speeds – and the stable, reliable connectivity – that its customers depend upon.

“The Generator was Exeter’s first coworking community and it remains the biggest in the thriving city. It provides desks, private offices, meeting rooms, social space, events and networking spaces to a community that numbers around 300 businesses and individuals. The Town House location on Dix’s Field, a short walk from the city centre, was the first to open and no most days, between 70 and 80 people will be working there. All of them will want to be connected to the Internet and have bandwidth available throughout the whole day,” said Neil Finnie, Founder and Managing Director of The Generator.

Whether people spend every day at a location or drop in every once in a while, these open, inviting and well-equipped spaces provide a productive, social environment that are ideal for small firms, start-ups, solo workers and freelancers.

The Town House location on Dix’s Field, a short walk from the city centre, was the first to open in 2011 and has since become home to a bustling community with an eclectic mix of individuals and companies who make use of the space on a regular basis or reside in it permanently. They are drawn from all sectors – there are hi-tech and marketing companies, social enterprises, charities, data scientists, illustrators and writers.

On most days, between 70 and 80 people will be working at the Town House. All of them will want to be connected to the Internet and have bandwidth available throughout the whole day.

The Generator also has another building at The Quay in Exeter and has recently acquired a third property in the city centre.

The challenge

Clearly, having great Internet access is vitally important in any coworking space. When it got started, The Generator had a standard ADSL2+ connection at the Town House. It soon needed to upgrade and installed two Virgin Media Superfast circuits. They were fairly reliable and provided speeds of up to 250Mbps downstream, but only around 15Mbps upstream.

This had been adequate at first, but Neil Finnie, Founder and Managing Director of The Generator, knew that with the business growing, they would not deliver enough bandwidth and speed to satisfy the growing number of businesses and individuals making use of the Town House.

“As a coworking space we are very reliant on good Internet connections. When we first started, we had something like 17Mbps’. But as we grew, we needed better connectivity, so we moved across to Virgin. While we did not have any particular issues with that, we wanted to provide a much better service to our users.

“People expect to be able to upload as fast as they can download now and the upload speed that we had at the time was something like 10 or 15Mbps, even though we were getting up to 250Mbps down. It was not necessarily because we were experiencing any real problems at the time, nobody was really complaining, but we had a lot of people using Skype or Google Hangouts and that kind of thing and what we envisaged was that, if someone had started to use up a lot of bandwidth, that could have an effect on everyone else.

“What we also saw as a potential issue going forward was that, if we had companies that would maybe need to upload a lot of big files e.g. film-makers or developers, they would want a much faster upload speed. We did not want to lose those people because we did not have the connection speeds they would need. We also wanted to make sure it was there without worrying that if someone used a lot of bandwidth at any time, it would have an impact on anyone else.”

The solution

Aquamarine Marketing was one of the companies making use of The Generator’s spaces and had become an integral part of the coworking community in the city. When CityFibre partner, Triangle Networks, launched Exeter as the latest addition to the CityFibre Gigabit City investment programme, in July 2018, Aquamarine’s Managing Director, Alona Kemmett, was there. She got talking to Bob Irwin, Sales Director of Triangle, who takes up the story.

“Triangle was the CityFibre launch partner for Exeter and I met Alona at the launch event. While our priority is to get as much fibre in the ground as possible, Triangle also understands that you need to get fully-immersed into the local business community in order to launch a Gigabit City. After talking to Alona, and getting to understand each other and our businesses, she walked us right up to Neil and said that I could possibly address the concerns he had about the future requirements of his customers. It was a real-life example of the power of networking. “

When he heard about the CityFibre option, Neil Finnie was eager to hear more about it. “The idea of getting 1Gbps both up and down would be a game-changer for us and we need to be offering that kind of service, so when Alona spoke to us about the potential to get those sorts of speeds, it was immediately interesting to us.”

“When I heard about the CityFibre option I was keen to find out more. The idea of getting 1Gbps both up and down would be a game-changer for us and we need to be offering that kind of service, so it was immediately interesting to us.”

As well as being delighted to hear that a 1Gbps service was being made available in Exeter, he was also pleasantly surprised when he heard what it could cost. “We’d always assumed it would be expensive. But we quickly realised that, given the kind of speeds we’d be getting, it was actually affordable on a business-case basis, and not that much more than we were paying already.”

A series of meetings between The Generator and Triangle took place over the next few months. Eventually, a contract was signed for a 1Gbps CityFibre circuit that would give users at the Town House speeds of up to 1Gbps, both downstream and upstream, and thus provide the additional bandwidth that Finnie felt was needed to support the needs of both current and future users.

The benefits

The circuit at The Generator’s Town House location went live in May 2019 and since that time has worked perfectly and given members all the speed and performance they need. There have been absolutely no complaints. More importantly, it has worked without faults or any downtime. For The Generator, this is key, as Neil Finnie emphasised.

“You can have all the speed you want but if there is any downtime at all, that’s a big issue for our users. As soon as the Internet goes off, everyone is up in arms because it affects their businesses. Fortunately, I don’t think we have had any downtime at Dix’s Field since the CityFibre circuit was installed, which is great for us and for our users.”

The Generator was one of the first businesses in Exeter to take a CityFibre gigabit circuit and the results have been excellent. The Generator is now looking at putting CityFibre gigabit circuits into its other building to ensure it can meet the current and future requirements of its community – for downloads and uploads and the provision of consistent, stable 24/7 connectivity.

Finnie has been pleased with the connection and with the service that both CityFibre and Triangle Networks have provided. “They have been great. They were always good at communicating and keeping us informed. It’s gone well and that’s why we are now talking to them about moving forward and putting a circuit into our building at The Quay as well.”

“Triangle and CityFibre have been great. They were always good at communicating and keeping us informed. It’s gone well and that’s why we are now talking to them about moving forward and putting a circuit into our building at The Quay as well.”

Similar topics