Case Studies | 2 February 2016 - by KCOM

Lightstream powers the UK fastest Tech Hub

This is John’s MacBook Air. When KCOM switched on the broadband connection at the trial site for Hull’s Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI Beta), he used his MacBook to do a speed test of the pilot network. The test returned a download speed of 100Mbps to the desktop, which at the time was the fastest internet connection to a tech hub anywhere in the UK.

John Connolly is managing director at C4DI. He says, “Every time I tested our network speed, it was rock solid. It was 100% reliable and we were extremely pleased with it.”

This superfast connectivity was one of the deciding factors in getting C4DI’s proof of concept admitted into the government-backed Tech North project. Part of the Tech City initiative, Tech North aims to attract expertise and investment to the cities of Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland in order to accelerate the digital economy in the North of England.

C4DI opened its doors in March 2013 to encourage growth in the local technology industry by supporting start-ups with incubator programmes and seed funding and helping larger, established businesses to innovate through technology. The Beta site was on the first floor of a bonded warehouse owned by Wykeland, a local property developer that pioneered the project.

Connolly explains: “When we were planning the trial, there was no doubt we had to have best connectivity we could get. The success of the trial depended on us attracting members and we knew connectivity would be a big draw card, so it was non-negotiable for us.”

“Choosing KCOM as our connectivity partner was frankly a no brainer. They’ve got by far the fastest network in the region because they own the infrastructure from end to end. We had very high expectations but KCOM’s engineers listened to what we said and understood what we wanted. I have to say their knowledge and service is exceptional.”

The trial ran until Nov 2015, over which time C4DI attracted 170 founding members. The successful Beta site gave Wykeland the confidence to build new premises a stone’s throw away in the city’s historic Central Dry Dock and Fruit Market. C4DI now has more than 200 members, from digital start-ups to corporate businesses.

On the strength of the trial, C4DI appointed KCOM to install its fibre broadband and wi-fi network throughout the new building. KCOM’s Lightstream network provides C4DI with a 64GB symmetric connection, so every desk has a 1Gbps dedicated connection.

“This is easily the fastest tech hub connectivity in the country,” says Connolly. “I’ve asked some of the other Tech City Alliance members and they can’t match the network speeds we have.”

For members like Label Worx, the world’s leading dance music distribution company, this makes C4DI the best place in Hull for them to run their business. Matt Abbott, co-founder of Label Worx, says, “When we were looking for new premises,
C4DI’s fibre connectivity was a massive tick in the box. Without a doubt it‘s simplified how we work and made data transfer totally reliable. We never have to check on file uploads like before.”

Commenting on the difference fibre to the desktop has made to their business, Abbott says, “We often use live video streaming for promotional work and used to have to choose which digital channel to use. Now we can stream to three channels at once without even thinking about it.”

However, Connolly says C4DI’s network is about more than providing an outstanding service for its members: “By having such an incredibly fast internet connection and all the business and consumers benefits that come with that, we have a testbed for what the world will be like when everyone has fibre to the desktop. It’s like having a technology innovation playground for the future.”

Connolly concludes, “Comparing us to other Tech City Alliance members, we’re leading on technology integration for traditional business. One of our aims is to help established businesses innovate by using technology more effectively and our fibre infrastructure is a big part of that, because we can really demonstrate to people what’s possible.”

To learn more about the new C4DI, please visit their website.

Image Credit - Interior: Mark Kensett ¦