Leeds centre gets 100Mbps fibre access

The first phase of a rollout of super-fast internet access has begun for businesses in Leeds

Telecommunications firm Aql has completed the first phase of its rollout of a fibre optic-based internet access service in Leeds, promising businesses in the city's centre download speeds of up to 100Mbps.

The service provides customers in The Calls area of Leeds with upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, Aql said in its announcement on Monday. It does this via a local fibre network in the city, which runs from the company's sites into suitable locations such as multi-tenanted offices.

In addition, the company maintains a fibre-optic link between Leeds and London that allows for faster data transfers between the two cities. The London and Leeds sites are among several Aql exchange sites around the UK.

The Leeds rollout arrives in the same week as fibre wholesaler Fibrecity announced the launch of fibre-based 100Mbps services in Bournemouth. Also this week, the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) announced it has put up £1m to support a 100Mbps link in the Oxford Road area of Manchester, with work on the infrastructure to begin this spring.

Aql said it is planning to extend the service across Leeds city centre throughout 2010. The company has about 20,000 clients, including Ucas, Samsung and Deutsche Bank.

The Calls area of Leeds was the home of internet provider Freeserve, now part of Orange, and the city's marketing and media companies are concentrated there, according to Aql. VTR North, a television post-production specialist, said it is using the service to transfer large video files to partners in London.

"This model allows many businesses to get a head start on their competitors, reaping the advantages of high-speed-working long before the delivery of the Digital Britain promise," Adam Beaumont, managing director of Aql, said in a statement.

In its Digital Britain report last year, the Labour government laid out plans to give users minimum speeds of up to 2Mbps across the country, including Northern Ireland.

The Conservative Party earlier this month announced plans to roll out fibre broadband access to the majority of UK homes within seven years, if it wins the general election. The party said that by 2017, almost all homes will be offered broadband access speeds of up to 100Mbps.