This article and photo originally appeared in the May edition of London Inc.
You wouldn’t drive a $1-million Bugatti on a dirt road any more than you would operate a cutting-edge digital company on dial-up internet. For today’s tech businesses to thrive, fast and reliable internet access is as vital as any other utility.
“Digital Infrastructure is like power or water,” says Start.ca’s corporate sales manager, Michael Noble. “You need it to be there, and if it’s gone it’s hard to function.”
Start.ca is a London-based internet service provider (ISP), and digital infrastructure is what they live and breathe. And when it comes to infrastructure for today and the future, there is only one word on everyone’s minds: fibre.
“Fibre internet uses technology that runs on tiny glass strands,” explains Noble. “It is truly built as a future-proof solution for how businesses and consumers connect to the internet.”
The advantage of a fibre optic network lies in both speed and capacity—it’s a far speedier and more robust delivery than a traditional broadband network. “Fibre doesn’t degrade over time and it scales to meet the needs of the customer as they grow without having to rip it out and put in new infrastructure,” says Nobel. “It isn’t limited by the kinds of challenges that you experience on a copper network.”
The benefits of fibre are obvious for companies moving gigabytes of data and content each day. However, the greatest value of fibre might not even be comprehensible to many companies. “A lot of businesses don’t realize what they are not able to do today because of limited bandwidth or other non-scalable limitations,” explains Noble. “Once the barrier is gone, they are able to realize the full potential of possibilities.”
“A lot of businesses don’t realize what they are not able to do today because of limited bandwidth or other non-scalable limitations. Once the barrier is gone, they are able to realize the full potential of possibilities” —Michael Noble
In order to prepare for future technological readiness, Noble believes fibre should be viewed liked other infrastructure essentials—and equally important as roads and sewers. “Fibre, or conduit to house fibre, should always be included in the city’s municipal infrastructure plans,” he says. “London’s Smart City Strategy helps to put the focus on this need,” he adds, referring to a city initiative designed to boost high-tech infrastructure spending.
By forecasting the value and importance of a fibre infrastructure in the city core, Start.ca has played a leading role in upgrading downtown connectivity as part of an aggressive London-focused company growth strategy. “Our fibre project in downtown London was an investment that had to happen,” says Noble. “It comes down to basic supply and demand, and making sure we could be part of the solution for the downtown core in London.”
Initially, the City of London allocated over $200,000 for fibre infrastructure upgrades. But with Start.ca incorporating much of this work into their expansion plan, only $7,000 was used and the remaining allocation was repurposed for other community efforts.
“Once fibre internet started reaching through downtown, customers were interested in getting on board,” says Noble. “Our local presence—and our focus on delivering a truly unique customer experience—is what sets us apart. London has been our home since the mid-1990s, and the downtown core has always been extremely important to us.”