Matt Hancock (central), Minister for Digital, on a recent West Yorkshire visit
Matt Hancock (central), Minister for Digital, on a recent West Yorkshire visit
Jamie Hardesty

Telecoms operator aql brings gigabit broadband to West Yorkshire businesses

Telecoms operator aql has announced it will offer gigabit broadband to businesses in West Yorkshire, as part of the Government’s newly-unveiled £2m Gigabit Voucher Scheme trial.

For some small and medium businesses, an upgrade to gigabit connectivity could mean an increase in speed of up to 50 times.

It will allow them to benefit from, among other things, faster uploads and downloads and vastly improved videoconferencing, and to move more of their on-premises computing to the cloud. Most importantly, unlocking these technologies brings improvements in productivity.

Eligible SMEs will be able to apply for a grant worth up to £3,000 to upgrade their broadband to a gigabit-capable connection.

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock visited aql’s HQ and main datacentre hub last week as part of the scheme’s launch.

He commented: “Leeds City Region has a well-established internet exchange and community of specialist service providers serving businesses in city and rural areas alike.

“A world-class digital communications network is essential to ensure the UK’s future competitiveness in the global market and its ability to attract investment.

“Faster and more reliable connections are transforming the way we live and work, and better broadband supports businesses to grow and become more productive.

“These voucher pilots, alongside a range of other actions, are testament to Government’s ambition for full fibre infrastructure across the UK to underpin our digital economy.”

Professor Adam Beaumont, founder and CEO of aql, said: “The region is home to a gamut of ‘big data’ businesses. These rely on collaboration by moving data around – either large files, such as our media industry, or real-time collaboration, which is a general enterprise need.

“For over a decade, aql has been dedicated to building the infrastructure which has created a digital connectivity hub. With this founding principle, we and other regional operators founded the Northern internet exchange with a vision to create a high-speed North.

“The internet exchange was the first of its kind outside of London. This also catalysed the growth of connectivity out of the UK without depending on our capital.

“What we have now is a region where the ‘raw material’ – connectivity to the global internet – is at the same cost as it is in London. This has transformed the city region and the North into a serious contender for global internet business.

The voucher scheme allows businesses to connect to that high-capacity resource – aql’s datacentres act as the main conduits from the city region to the global internet. Having these datacentres in the heart of the city near to the businesses which need this connectivity increases the quality and availability of ultra-high-speed internet.“

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