YORK is to reach a landmark in its ambition to become the Digital Infrastructure Capital of the north when it launches some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK in the New Year.

The York Core, a network of 103 kilometres of pure fibre optic network, will be launched to businesses at an event this month.

At present the average speed in the city is about 7.5 megabits per second (Mbps), said Mark Collins, director of regulation and public policy at CityFibre, which laid the core that will enable speeds of up to 1Gbps, or 1,000Mbps.

Coun James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said the York CORE would attract new digital businesses to the city and give existing York businesses an opportunity to increase efficiency, improve productivity and grow.

“We have worked hard over the past year to significantly up our game on digital infrastructure and we have built relationships with private sector infrastructure providers, encouraging them to invest in York.

“We now have a future-proof digital infrastructure, built in partnership with CityFibre and capable of supporting all the elements of a modern city, now and in the years to come.”

Mark Fordyce, managing director of York Data Services, which currently provides up to 100Mbps at York Science Park and uses infrastructure laid by providers such as CityFibre, Virgin and BT to reach other businesses in the city, said the new network covered a lot of the city.

He said that such high speeds would not yet give faster internet access if users were accessing slower networks around the world. The benefit would come from enabling businesses to have their own “private clouds”, networks they can access from anywhere as quickly as if they were working on the computer under their desk, which is especially important for large data sets, such as film rendering and CAD drawings.

The network, which was initially built for the public sector, already connects more than 110 sites including council offices, schools and data centres, and different internet service providers will be able to provide the service to customers.

The core will be extended by a further 6,247 metres by March 2013 to be within 200 metres of 80 per cent of the city’s businesses.

Nicola Spence, chief executive of SCY, formerly Science City York, said: “This will position York as a serious player in the connected digital economy. We will be the most digitally connected city outside London, which is a clear message to attract businesses to start, move and grow here.

“We have provided the buildings with the incubators and grow on spaces and we provide human connectivity through SCY, events and partnering and now we have the digital connectivity. It shows that we’re serious about the needs of modern businesses and means our businesses can be ambitious about their goals and international opportunities.”

The Core will be discussed by a panel of experts on December 17 at York St John University.