City’s latest tech asset: The Loop

A data cable network around Manchester that was acquired after the crash ten years ago is to be relaunched to business occupiers and developers by communications group Gamma.

The infrastructure was put in place by Atlantic Telecom, which collapsed in 2002 with debts of £700m. Gamma paid £1.3m at auction for Atlantic Telecom's assets, which cost £300m to install and ran from London to Glasgow, with a dedicated circuit around Manchester.

The city network, now called The Loop, runs for 48 miles and contains fibre optic cabling capable of 1GB/s download speed. 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.

The Loop has been licensed to another data provider for the past few years, but owner Gamma now wants to take direct control and launch its own services on the network.

Bob Falconer, Gamma's chief executive, 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. "

Parent company Gamma Telecom Holdings produced turnover of £131m last year and pre-tax profit of £6.7m. The company carries around 13% of UK business data and voice traffic and provides call handling services, hosted cloud solutions and business grade VoIP (voice over internet protocol).

Gamma has its UK operational and network management centre in Trafford Park where it employs 85 people.

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."

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