Last month we were very pleased to be lead sponsor at the first ever TEDx Peterborough, which, hosted at the city’s Key Theatre, brought together a host of inspiring speakers under the theme ‘Variety is the Spice of Life.’

With the goal of sharing ideas worth spreading, TED resonates strongly with CityFibre and our ambition for the UK, which is specifically why we wanted to lend our support.

For us, ideas spark innovation and make aspirations real, and that is exactly how we came to be building next generation infrastructure across Peterborough and more than 50 other towns and cities across the UK. From the start, we believed the UK needed an alternative infrastructure to secure its continued competitiveness in the digital age. This belief, teamed with our idea to work in partnership with town and city stakeholders to anchor deployments, has brought our vision to life, while driving investment and demand.

Reflecting on the event, what struck me about the first Peterborough line-up was how easily this digitally-enabled platform could bring together local and international voices on such a wide range of universally-resonating topics – from health and wellbeing, to the environment and virtual reality. This got me thinking about the importance of digital connectivity today and the role it can play in bringing people from different backgrounds and geographies together to collaborate, share ideas and ultimately, shape lives.

I think it’s so exciting that, by simply going on our computers, tablets or smart phones, we can access thought provoking, motivating and moving content from the world’s greatest speakers through the likes of TED.

But that’s not all. Thanks to big ideas, innovation, and the prevailing desire to shape a better, fairer future for all, digital infrastructure can be used to underpin life changing applications that can change our world for the better.

For example, at a community level, affordable access to quality broadband can make it possible for everyone to maximise the benefits of the internet, such as being able to access cheaper energy tariffs, find job opportunities and access learning tools. Health is also an important area of digital exploration – successful studies have proved that data can be stored en masse and analysed using AI to identify those at risk of life-limiting conditions, enabling preventative action to be taken.

Ultimately, the internet is a communication platform, so it can help us become more connected as citizens by making it possible to share experiences, learn from each other and become more engaged in global issues. Avaaz, for instance, was launched with the aim of empowering millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues together.

These are just a few examples, but, I strongly believe that next generation digital infrastructure will continue to fuel invention, innovation, creativity and positive citizenship as the digital age progresses. At CityFibre, it is our goal to ensure as many people as possible can access it across the UK. But we must all be responsible for championing its position as a force for good.

For those who don’t know, CityFibre is investing more than £30 million to bring gigabit-speed connectivity to almost every home and business in Peterborough as part of its strategic partnership with Vodafone.

Work now largely complete in Garton End, New England, Paston, Dogsthorpe and Newark, and currently expanding out of these areas.

The ‘fibre to the premises’ programme will expand CityFibre’s existing network in the city. Launched in 2014, the original network was built to serve Peterborough’s business community and public sector.

Rebecca Stephens, City Manager for Peterborough at CityFibre

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