Manchester UK's 'hidden treasure' will boost the city's tech ambitions

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A vast network of cabling, stretching for 48 miles (77 km), will supply ultrafast connectivity with speeds reaching 1 GB/s and beyond to Greater Manchester. It circles the city centre and stretches out to Eccles in the West, towards Oldham in the North, Stretford in the South and Gorton in the East.

Called The Loop, the fibre optic cables are buried under the region's roads and have lain largely dormant for over a decade. The cabling was installed by Atlantic Telecom who went into administration in 2002, at the time when Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games. It was purchased from the administrators by Gamma, now one of the largest communications businesses in the UK, and the company is now making it available to support Manchester's ambitions to be one of the world's top 20 digital cities by 2020.

Gamma has its UK operational and network management centre in Manchester's Trafford Park where it currently employs more than 85 people.

Bob Falconer, Gamma's CEO said: "The Loop gives us significant network capacity and coverage in the Manchester area, in some cases, where no other fibre network capacity or capability exists. We can provide high capacity internet and voice services to specific locations at a competitive price as the cabling is already installed. We recognise that Manchester aspires to be the UK's tech city and needs the very best in connectivity to achieve this, and we want to help the city realise this ambition. Today it would cost tens of millions to install this level of cabling from scratch and cause massive disruption by digging up the roads. This is a fantastic asset which we want to share with businesses in the city. "

Manchester-based Ashley Griffiths, Managing Director of The Loop said: "This is a recycled asset which Manchester has been sitting on for more than a decade. We have kept this network maintained and the time is now right to make it available to local businesses. Organisations located on or close to The Loop can now access ultra-fast internet connectivity and high quality communications services from the same fibre cable feed, giving them a much more flexible telephony service. Ultrafast, reliable internet is vital for any business to prosper and we can deliver state-of-the-art technology cheaply, quickly and efficiently."

For more information on Gamma visit www.gamma.co.uk