Comment: Full speed ahead for even faster broadband

All of Scotland will benefit from the CityFibre network, writes Ricky Nicol

Ricky Nicol is chief executive of Commsworld. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The recent announcement that Edinburgh will be gaining access to a superfast network has countless immediate benefits for businesses, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg as it’s the potential offered that is really exciting with truly digital cities proven to attract some of the most innovative firms on the planet.

Network infrastructure provider CityFibre announced that Edinburgh was to become the latest city to join the Gigabit revolution as it would lay the infrastructure that would allow businesses to connect to a network with speeds up to 100 times faster than they are currently used to.

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It’s easy to get lost in the technical side, but this could have a significant positive impact on both the cost and revenue of most businesses so it’s important that people are aware of what this “Dark Fibre” network could mean for their business, Edinburgh and in fact the rest of ­Scotland.

Cities such as Seoul and Stockholm are fantastic case studies for the huge impact this kind of infrastructure can have, with both reporting a 1 per cent increase in GDP due to the upgrade. That increase is huge for any city, but the real gain is the amount of investment it will attract through new business start-ups and increased profits at existing businesses, which will result in increased ­employment.

What it could mean to an individual businesses is almost limitless. Every business is different, but faster connectivity will allow for better communication, improved efficiency and productivity and in many cases better services for clients.

Another big advantage is communication between different premises. When people email their mate at work it’s immediate, but when they email someone in a different branch of the same office, it may take 20 seconds or more because it has to go through a network in London, this new network allows us to keep it all local making it faster and creating employment.

I’ve just had meetings with two owners of very different businesses who were excited by the superfast network. The first is a mid to large rapidly expanding recruitment firm, which like many large businesses in Edinburgh, can’t find a big enough premises that is fit for purpose – but they can find three smaller premises that are ­perfect.

The inevitable slow communication between the three premises was seen as a major drawback, but the immediate real-time communication that would be available through this superfast network makes the decision a lot easier for them.

The other interesting meeting I had was with the owner of a large chain of hairdressers who phoned as soon as he heard about the announcement as one of the biggest pains he has is linking up all the various salons. He will now be able to keep his technical kit in one premises rather than several and be able to join them together and communicate as if they are in the same building.

CityFibre’s largest Gigabit City investment is its second in Scotland. It has been made possible by a partnership with Commsworld, an Edinburgh-based network service provider with a 20-year ­history.

CityFibre plans to lay some 50km of dark fibre cable throughout the most heavily business populated areas of the city, but has said this could increase to 150km depending on demand.

Commsworld has partnered with the firm to deliver the first wave of demand through its existing customer base, while also working to attract new businesses to the huge benefits of the lightning quick network speeds.

Ricky Nicol is chief executive of Commsworld