Bath’s superfast broadband scheme launches with plea to firms to get involved

February 12, 2014

Firms are being urged to sign up to GigaBath – the pioneering scheme to give the city the region’s fastest broadband – following its launch on Monday.

Bath-based internet telephony, broadband and web hosting firm Gradwell Communications has teamed up with London fibre infrastructure provider CityFibre to develop the city centre network.

At the launch event, held at The Guild tech hub in The Guildhall, Gradwell founder Peter Gradwell and Rob Hamlin of CityFibre explained the background to the scheme and their belief that it could put Bath at the leading edge of the creative and tech sectors – both of which require bandwidths not readily available in the city centre.

Research has shown that cities with faster broadband have stronger economies and job creation.

The scheme needs 50 businesses to sign up to make it viable. Firms can opt for a three or five-year deal and once enough have signed up the network could go live in three months.

Costs are likely to start at around £300 a month, said Peter Gradwell. However many Bath's buildings house offices or retail units with residential accommodation above. In these cases the cost could be shared.

He said many business people lived in the city centre as well as running businesses based there, so they could benefit twice over from the scheme.

Rob Hamlin outlined how CityFibre had experience of working in historic city centres – most recently in York where it installed a loop. While putting in broadband fibre meant digging up roads like any utility, he said the firm was sensitive to local needs.

While the UK liked to think of itself as a global centre for hi-tech and creative firms, it was hamstrung by probably the slowest broadband speeds in Europe, he added.

“In China, any new development has fibre put in from the start,” he said. “But in most of our cities in the UK we are still using the copper wire that was put in decades ago. It is really holding us back.”

He said a modern fibre cabling network was now an essential part of a modern city's connectivitiy in the same way that road and rail connections had been in previous industrial revolutions.

The authorities in the US are aiming to have a 'gigabit' city in every state by 2015 he said as they see it as essential for economic growth.

The firm started putting fibre into Bath city centre around six years ago when it worked with the university. Later it added major users to the network such as media group Future and Bath College. It now has around 11km of fibre under the city's streets.

The plan with Gradwell could position Bath as a "city of the future", he said.




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