PLANS to turn York into the “digital capital of Britain” moved a step closer with the appointment of Fujitsu as the build partner for the project.
Network specialist CityFibre, alongside joint venture partners Sky and TalkTalk, has unveiled plans to turn York into the UK’s first Gigabitcity with the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.
The trio aim to take on market leader BT in a plan they claim will put York on the map.
Fujitsu will help the partners to build a state-of-the-art, pure fibre-to-the-premise network, delivering broadband speeds of 1 Gigabit (1,000 Mbps) to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in York.
The joint venture said that Fujitsu was selected for its in-depth knowledge and experience of delivering networks for Tier 1 operators in the UK and abroad, as well as its ability to build networks at scale.
Fujitsu will undertake all of the build activities including detailed network planning, civil and network construction, testing and interconnection of the FTTP network.
CityFibre said that network planning is well advanced and the first technology and construction activities aimed at optimising deployment speed, cost and quality will start in late October.
The first customers are expected to sign up in 2015.
The service will be city-wide and will aim to sign up between 65,000 and 85,000 customers when it launches next year.
The first part of the city to be connected will be the north and the joint venture has plans to reduce disruption to a minimum.
Greg Mesch, chief executive officer of CityFibre, said: “We can do a road in one day. So you go to work in the morning and it’s finished when you come home.
“York will have one of the best infrastructures in Europe – certainly the best in the UK,” he said.
The speeds will far surpass what is currently on offer – the current top speed in York is 300 Mbps and the average speed is just nine Mbps.
Dido Harding, chief executive of value-for-money telecoms group TalkTalk, said the service will put York on the map.
“York has been really enthusiastic to set up a vision as the digital capital of the UK, ” she said.
“York Council want that. This will make York the fastest city by a mile. You could have 200 friends round and all of them could livestream a different movie.”
No decisions have been made yet on pricing, but Ms Harding said the service will be “a better product at a better price”.
Analysts said the new service is the biggest challenge to BT’s dominance of the broadband market yet.
Analyst Andrew Darley, at FinnCap, said: “This is extremely positive for brand presence and industry awareness, with the two most credible service providers working with CityFibre to enable such high speeds on a city-wide basis, a first for a UK city.”
The new network will use CityFibre’s existing fibre infrastructure in the city, but will take fibre optic cables into buildings rather than rely on BT’s copper network to get over the doorstep.
“BT’s copper infrastructure is Victorian age,” said Mr Mesch.
“At the moment the speed in York is very slow.”