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The Shambles joins City of York’s fibre optic revolution

One of York’s oldest and best loved streets has gone live with newly installed fibre optic internet connection for its businesses, who are now enjoying being part of York’s digital revolution.

Businesses along the Shambles and King’s Court can now receive internet speeds of up to 1000Mbps as a result of newly installed fibre optic cabling, funded through the government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme.

The Shambles is regarded as one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe, overhanging with timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the 14th Century. As a key part of York’s outstanding World Heritage offer, implementation of the fibre in this historic area of the city had to take into account the protection of the collection of listed buildings.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of City of York Council and Executive Member for Transport, said;

“Internet connectivity is not a luxury but a necessity to many of the residents and businesses in our city. This is why we are keen to work with providers and funders to give York’s businesses the best connectivity possible and allow them to experience the full benefit of living and working in the UK’s first Gigabit City.”

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said;

“Many are attracted to York for its history and culture however, our digital infrastructure is supporting our residents and businesses with future-ready connectivity to be productive and innovative in the 21st century.

We’re pleased to see the historic Shambles and Kings Court benefiting from our city’s connectivity and the success of another innovative approach to advancing York’s digital infrastructure.”

Just over £100,000 funding from Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had been secured through the Gigabit Voucher Scheme to fund the installation costs, thus no cost to the individual businesses for the initial installation.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital and Broadband said;

“We’re committed to future-proofing our communities and boosting the economy by delivering world-class, gigabit-capable broadband to the whole of the UK.

“Nowhere is our ambition more clear than on the Shambles, where I’m very pleased that our £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is providing York’s oldest street with the very fastest fibre connectivity around.”

Working in partnership with the DCMS, contractor FACTCO and installer EuroComs; City of York Council have brought cost effective and fit for purpose fibre connectivity to over 40 businesses in the city centre location.

Installation methods crucially avoided the disturbance of the brick work, beams and historical features of the area.

All of the previously used copper element was removed to make way for a new 1000Mb private leased line which served as a ‘full fibre’ back bone through the buildings. The line was installed first into Kings Court and then extended onto The Shambles, via the overhead gantry, offering businesses along the street a ‘direct fibre connection’.

Work was carried out through the night over a 4 week period to minimise disruption around this highly popular tourist site.

This approach will be replicated to other areas of the city centre that are harder to reach and those which ordinarily don’t attract investment as part of larger works, due to lack of market density.

Lee Murphy, Managing Director at FACTCO, said;

“It’s been great to be involved in a project that merges new technology with an area that has such history. The Shambles is a beautiful location and equally a great location for businesses. However, slow internet speeds in this city centre location were becoming a strain on business productivity and forcing some to consider relocation. We have enjoyed working together with City of York council and the Digital York team, to deliver greater connectivity and pioneer an innovative approach to fibre installation along these historic streets.”

With methods proving successful in the intricate installations along the Shambles, the council plans to continue this roll out to include the Stonegate, Petergate and Swinegate area in the next phase of fibre installation.

Businesses and residents in this area can express interest in the opportunity to receive full fibre connectivity by contacting the Digital York team at [email protected] .

The optical fibre installed in this project compares in diameter to that of a human hair and carries data from one point to another in the form of light. Its design allows for a sustained strong signal to produce internet speeds of 1000 Mbps, this requires less power consumption than copper cabling as loss of signal strength is reduced.

The light weight cables also helps reduce congestion in ducts carrying cabling across the city and despite its glassy structure, the fibre optic cables are at least comparable in strength, flexibility and durability to that of traditional copper cabling.

The optical fibre boasts of greater signal security and overall reliability that traditional copper, which often reduces maintenance time and costs.

Recipients of this latest fibre connectivity have praised the works and shared their experience of the installation and the immediate impact it has had on their businesses:

David Emery, Creative Director for Impact Communications Ltd, said;

“We were actively looking to relocate as slow broadband was making our business unsustainable – the arrival of the new fibre broadband service has completely eliminated our need to move out of the city centre.”

Ryan Roost, Head of Delivery at ZigZag Digital, said;

“When we heard about the new fibre installation programme we were excited by the prospect of being one of the first businesses in the city to trial the scheme. It’s by far the most superior service we’ve seen and has really made a difference to our operations output as a business.”

The Shambles was awarded one of the first ever Google Streets Awards back in 2010, for Britain’s most picturesque streets and is home to some of York’s award-winning independent retailers. The area can now not only boast of its historic beauty and unique businesses, but also some of the best internet speeds in the country.


Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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