Capital’s Internet Black Hole Tackled to End Web ‘Not Spot’

by Scott Douglas

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Charlie Boisseau of CommsworldThousands of businesses in Edinburgh city centre are to be offered a solution to an ‘internet black hole’ problem that is crippling their efforts to trade successfully in the digital age.

The centre of Edinburgh – the hub of much of the capital’s key financial services and legal sector – is a notorious problem area dubbed a “Not Spot”.

Many firms face daily difficulties using the web to conduct critical business operations prompting business influencers to describe the existing network as ‘worse than most third world countries”.

Around 2000 firms are served from the historic-but-outdated Rose Street Exchange, but BT has ruled out including the site in its ongoing upgrade plans to roll out super-fast fibre-optic connections.

That means firms have little chance of achieving the 35mb per second internet speeds which the Government has set as the “super fast” target for businesses to flourish – unless they are prepared to shell out tens of thousands of pounds for their own fibre connection.

Affordable business internet

However, experts from Commsworld, which has its HQ in Edinburgh, have announced they will “unbundle” the local exchange network from BT this month, allowing businesses in the area to access an affordable, business-only internet connection with guaranteed speeds.

A number of firms are already lining up to join the new service, which Commsworld believes will help it ramp up turnover to exceed £10m in 2014.

Charlie Boisseau, Managing Director of Fluency Communications – Commsworld’s network division – said the breakthrough will be welcome news to businesses blighted by poor connection and download speeds, which hamper their ability to compete with rivals elsewhere in the country.

He said: “This is the first time businesses in this area will be able to get speeds normally associated with fibre – without the costs of fibre.

“We have already let many of our existing customers know this will be going live soon and they are desperate to get on board. We believe many others will be quick to follow suit, because the productivity gains are potentially enormous.”

The Rose Street Exchange utilises the copper wires first laid 100 years ago. Although now empty apart from equipment, the impressive-looking building was once the base for hundreds of telephone switchboard operators, patching in calls to thousands of different homes and businesses.

Copper cables

One of the problems for modern businesses in the area is that internet traffic is still sent up and down those copper cables and the signal gets progressively poorer further away from the exchange.

When Commsworld engineers unbundle the Rose Street Exchange they will install specialist equipment which enables far better use of the copper cable technology, boosting the signal strength to deliver a business grade Ethernet service.

Charlie Boisseau added: “While the copper cable infrastructure is extensive it is also finite in terms of how much data it can carry.

“No-one else really pushes it to its limits – but we will and that is how we will deliver this service that businesses are crying out for.”

While some major providers have already installed standard equipment in the exchange it is usually aimed at delivering broadband to domestic customers, meaning businesses using it get a maximum speed of 16mb per second.

The specialist equipment deployed by Commsworld will be aimed at businesses only and will deliver speeds of 35-40mb per second, surpassing the Government target for super-fast business access.

The unbundling of the Rose Street Exchange will also mean customers can feed into Scotland’s only dedicated business-grade telecoms network, which Commsworld set up last year.

Commsworld believes the Fluency Network, serving Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, allows businesses to better compete by providing quicker access to data without being bounced through servers in London or Manchester.  More than 400 businesses have signed up to the Fluency Network since its launch in2013.

Commsworld, founded in 1994, is Scotland’s leading unified communications specialists, providing customers with a full range of integrated communications solutions.

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