Northampton will this month celebrate its one-year anniversary as one of the UK’s first Gigabit Cities, thanks to a partnership between CityFibre and local ISP, dbfb, which brought next-generation, full-fibre connectivity to the city’s businesses for the very first time last year.

Since then, businesses along the 45km fibre network have been able to wave good bye to their creaking copper-based broadband services and say hello to reliable end-to-end fibre connectivity (an asset currently available to just three per cent of UK premises). This has in turn, not only provided access to broadband speeds capable of up to 100 times faster than the national average and near unlimited bandwidth – it has unlocked business growth by driving increased efficiency and productivity while supporting new revenue opportunities such as e-commerce.

The need for a future proofed digital infrastructure has been recognised locally by Northampton County Council, which, in a bid to stimulate growth, has set an ambitious target to make superfast broadband available across the county by the end of 2017.

As well as securing an £800k funding boost for the Northamptonshire Digital Enhancement project to improve broadband connectivity and develop digital innovation, the county council has also identified e-commerce as a key growth opportunity for local businesses, given that many still operate without a broadband connection.

Bluefish, one of the UK’s leading office product companies, is one of over 50 businesses connected to CityFibre’s Gigabit City network. The firm now enjoys the well documented benefits of full-fibre connectivity, which include increased productivity and a greater ability to innovate new products, systems and services, such as online sales.

Mark Heath, managing director of Bluefish said: “Over the past two years we have seen a large shift to on-line purchases, however our systems were running too slow. In January we joined Northampton’s Gigabit City Network and secured a full-fibre connection at the same cost as our lease line, but 10 times faster. This transition has not only seen an improvement in the productivity of our staff, it has enabled us to reduce our operating costs as we can update our online catalogue in-house and we’re able to drive transactions through flash sales – something we were unable to do previously.”

Digital communication specialists RJDM have also joined the network this year. Paul Thurland, managing director, said: “Since joining the CityFibre network we’ve definitely seen improvements, especially across our animation offering. Rendering is a very processor-heavy function and most animation studios will want to use cloud based on demand rendering services which rely on high speed connectivity. We are a digital business operating at the leading edge of technology so it was a vital investment for us now and for our future connectivity needs.”

Given the central role of digital connectivity across business, public service and our lives at home, Gigabit City status has been credited as contributing to wider economic growth, impacting positively on a town or city’s ability to attract new start-ups, inward investors and ultimately, jobs. Indeed, Northampton itself was named the best place for business start-ups outside London in the 2016 Centre for Cities Outlook report.

Marc Lough, City Development Manager at CityFibre, added: “It’s been great to welcome so many businesses to the network across Northampton. Full-fibre connectivity will play a key role in helping the city to achieve its ambition to be a leading area for innovation, business growth and green technologies across the country.

“By future proofing Northampton’s digital infrastructure, we’re helping to lay the foundation for the town’s expansion plans. A growing population will put even more demands on connectivity. We know it plays an important factor in retaining and attracting people and businesses to the town.”

Simon Pickering, Managing Director of dbfb, said: “The response we’ve had from our city has been excellent and it’s been a real talking point amongst business leaders. Connectivity will play a huge part in driving the city’s ambitions forward as it looks to grow. Now is the time for businesses to future-proof their connectivity and discover the great benefits ultrafast full-fibre broadband can offer.”

For more information about Northampton’s Gigabit City project, visit: www.cityfibre.com/northampton

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