TALKS are being held with businesses as part of a bid to roll out the fastest fibre connectivity to other parts of York city centre.

The move to advance York’s digital infrastructure follows the intricate installation of fibre optic cabling along Shambles and King's Court. City of York Council now wants to include the Stonegate, Petergate and Swinegate area in the next phase.

The Shambles scheme now provides traders with internet speeds of up to 1000Mbps. The line was installed in King’s Court and extended onto Shambles via the overhead gantry, offering businesses a ‘direct fibre connection’. This approach will be replicated to other harder-to-reach areas, and those which ordinarily don’t attract investment as part of larger works, due to lack of market density.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's Gigabit Voucher Scheme provides SME businesses with funding of up to £2,500 to upgrade to a Gigabit-capable full-fibre internet connection.

York council worked on the scheme with the DCMS, contractor FACTCO and installer EuroComs. The council's Lindsay Wilkinson, who works on full fibre projects, said: "We are the first Gigabit city in the UK and very proud of that. We want to build on that and deliver fibre into as many areas as possible. The next area we are looking at covers High and Low Petergate, Stonegate, Swinegate. We want to start this side of Christmas."

But it was important for it to be financially viable, she said. "I am in talks with some businesses who I know are interested." Others are urged to get in touch.

"The key is getting people to understand how the funding works. People need to understand what it can do for their business."

Phil Pinder, chairman of Shambles Traders Association, said: "Before, we were on two copper cables for the entire street. One copper cable should only supply 10 businesses, according to BT. We have 60 businesses on Shambles all sharing these two cables. You can imagine on a Friday afternoon in summer, with everyone working, the chaos it would lead to - credit cards machines wouldn't work. We were desperate.

"Each business is entitled to a Government voucher to help install the system. We all clubbed together and that's what has paid for this system. We now have one superfast cable. We have dragged the Shambles from being one of the slowest streets in York to one of the fastest. We are above the capacity we would ever need."

Ryan Roodt, director of ZigZag, King's Court, said: "Everything we do is web based; it's our bread and butter. We relocated here on the assumption that broadband was a given. We realised it was very poor and enquired about getting a fixed line. It was £500 to £600 a month."

They were within days of signing the deal when FACTCO asked them to hold fire, said ZigZag founder Elliot Jones.

It was worth the wait. "We now have a more cost-effective and reliable system than we had before," he said. "It would be naive to turn down the opportunity, even for people who don't have a massive web presence."

Keith McLean, of Shambles Tavern, said: "It is staggering what they have done with this street. Whether they have deliberately chosen the most difficult street to show this is possible, I don't know. But it is important for us now to say to other businesses that this is really genuine."

His advice to other businesses considering signing up was simple: "It's a no brainer!"

Lee Murphy, FACTCO managing director, said: “It’s been great to be involved in a project that merges new technology with an area that has such history. Slow internet speeds in this city centre location were becoming a strain on business productivity and forcing some to consider relocation."

Businesses and residents in this area can express interest in the opportunity to receive full fibre connectivity by contacting the Digital York team at .