With October marking the one year milestone of Milton Keynes’ transformation into a Gigabit City, business leaders and city stakeholders gathered together recently to discuss how they could work together to further cement the region’s leading position in the UK’s digital economy.

The gathering chaired by leading digital infrastructure provider CityFibre, called on MK Business Leaders to share their ambitions for their city and discuss how to harness the benefits of the city’s increasing access to the full-fibre network. They considered the impact on business productivity, improvements to health services and education, introducing smart city applications and even the future of the connected home.

Speaking after the event, Marc Lough, City Development Manager at CityFibre said: “Milton Keynes has risen rapidly to become one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. Having been identified by the National Infrastructure Commission as the ideal future home of the UK’s Silicon Valley, it is well placed to make the most of its full-fibre infrastructure.

“As a country we need to get back on track and improve our connectivity so we can compete on a level playing field with our peers around the world. We see our Gigabit City network as a future proofing exercise and one that Milton Keynes has really embraced. This was clear from the discussion we had at the event. We’ve been working hard with both enterprise and the public sector across Milton Keynes to help transform the city’s digital landscape and we’re excited to see what such a digitally savvy location can do now that they have better connectivity to flex.”

Attendees at the event also acknowledged the role Gigabit City status plays in boosting the city’s profile, attracting inward investment and helping it to fulfil its aspiration to become the home of the UK’s Silicon Valley.

Duncan Sharkey, Corporate Director at Milton Keynes Council explained: “We need to make sure we keep pace with infrastructure going forward. We need future-proofed full-fibre infrastructure in the ground so we can keep updating our speeds and we keep moving forward. We are looking at innovative ways of working with businesses and other key stakeholders across the city to enhance the city’s reputation as a digital leader.”

Dr Philip Smith MBE, Chair of MK Business Leaders Partnership, added: “It’s clear that digital connectivity is very important for the future of businesses across Milton Keyes. If we have ambition to be a city that is at the forefront of digital technology, then our connectivity needs to improve immediately, we are already well behind other progressive cities.”

Hundreds of sites are already connected across Milton Keynes’ 160km next-generation full-fibre network and it is within reach of thousands of businesses across the city. Marketing Firm, Interdirect, is one of the city’s connected businesses. The firm’s Managing Director Nicholas Mann participated in the recent event highlighting their experience of ultrafast connectivity stating: “Essentially we are a web-based business, we are connected to CityFibre’s network and it’s fabulous. It’s faster and cheaper than our previous connection.  As the margins are ever decreasing across our businesses, this was hugely important to us to be able to lower our connectivity costs yet up our capabilities. I believe we need a city-wide, full-fibre infrastructure as it underpins our future digital economy.”

The network delivers consistent ultrafast internet speeds and connectivity with near unlimited bandwidth. Currently available to just three per cent of premises across the UK, this type of connectivity is celebrated for helping local businesses to grow and become more competitive and innovative, and local communities to attract start-ups and investment as well as adopt city-wide improvements such as smart traffic management, HD CCTV and public Wi-Fi.

CityFibre has been working with telecoms service provider dbfb to connect businesses across the city. Speaking of the event Simon Pickering, Managing Director of dbfb, said: “Milton Keynes has previously ranked amongst the worst digitally-connected cities in the UK but the Gigabit City project has begun to catapult us to the front of the pack. There’s a real appetite to make the most of the fibre network and the business community already hugely supportive. We still have work to do; many still look at connectivity as a luxury. It’s not; it’s a utility we need to invest in. We look forward to working with CityFibre to deliver ultrafast, affordable connectivity to more businesses across Milton Keynes in the future.”