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Ultrafast Virgin Media broadband for Manchester's 'tech quarter'

Friday, September 11th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Businesses in Manchester’s ‘tech quarter’ are set to benefit from ultrafast fibre broadband.

Virgin Media Business is to provide 3,000 businesses across 300 buildings in the city’s Northern Quarter with faster internet speeds.

The announcement follows the creation in the area of Tech North – a government-backed technology start-up hoped to replicate the success of London’s Tech City.

Virgin, which announced a £75m investment in Manchester’s broadband infrastructure earlier this summer, is installing fibre cables directly to each premises.

Small businesses have the option to sign up to a 50Mbps or 100Mbps contract.

For firms requiring even faster speeds, there are also individual leased line options with speeds up to 1Gbps. Similar packages were launched earlier this year in Tech City, a technology cluster in East London.

More than 450 London businesses, located in 70 buildings, are now being connected to Virgin Media Business’s dedicated connections.

Chancellor George Osborne announced as part of his spring budget that the government would allocate £4m to establish a technology start-up hub in Manchester to help create “thriving local ecosystems” similar to those seen in London.

The announcement followed a report by Tech Nation, a project that aims to show the growth of digital businesses, which said Greater Manchester had seen a 70% growth in digital companies between 2010 and 2013.

Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, said: “A central part of any technology hub is reliable, secure high-speed internet.

“This can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving for small and medium sized businesses so I’m thrilled we’re able to bring Manchester’s vibrant business community our latest package with the fastest broadband speeds.”

'Northern powerhouse'

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Virgin Media Business’ investment in Manchester is very welcome.

“Quick, reliable broadband is the backbone of our digital economy, transforming the way businesses operate and the services they can provide.

“This announcement represents a bespoke ultrafast broadband package for small and medium enterprises and will help support some of Manchester’s most digitally-minded and creative businesses.”

Mike Cherry, director of policy at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “We welcome this new digital investment by Virgin Media Business to boost the broadband connection for several thousand businesses in Manchester.

“It's vital we encourage economic growth right across the UK, particularly in the northern powerhouse where there is so much potential waiting to be unlocked.

“This sort of investment is essential if we are to encourage greater job creation and growth outside London and the south east.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy – it’s crucial they continue to get the investment and support they need from larger companies and the government so they can deliver the jobs and prosperity we all want to see.”

Each small business in a building connected with fibre by Virgin Media Business is able to apply for a subsidy from the government’s SuperConnected Cities scheme.

The £75m investment in Manchester announced earlier this year is part of Virgin's 'Project Lightning', a £3bn ultrafast broadband rollout that Virgin claims is the single largest investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure for a decade.

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