How Aspera file transfer technology is being used to help creative companies move data quickly across the North of England.

NorthernNet is a project that was conceived to allow creative companies in the North of England to benefit from a high-speed digital network connecting the North West, Yorkshire and the North East.

It is part of a £15m scheme to connect the North West, Yorkshire and the North East, and to encourage innovation and collaboration.

The aim of NorthernNet was to provide bandwidth, storage and top and tail editing technology so that small to medium-sized companies and freelancers within the region could compete for business at a national and international level.

At a local level, it’s hoped the speed and efficiency of NorthernNet will transform the way businesses develop their products and communicate with customers.  

The size and network infrastructure of the companies involved was limited, so the immediate challenge came in the form of providing the high performance kit and building the network.

For this, NorthernNet turned to file transfer company Aspera to provide transport software for the high-speed movement of data files from the Media Access Bureaux (MABs) based in various locations around the North of England.

Media Access Bureaux

The MABs – installed by reseller Altered Images - provide an area where companies have access to the pipeline and industry standard post-production facilities on a pay-as-you-go basis.

They are located in key business, cultural and educational sites in cities like Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle as well as Lancaster, Scarborough and Grimsby.

NorthernNet is also connected to MediaCityUK, the multi-million pound Peel Media development in Salford and the future home of the BBC in the North.

This potentially means that any company in the North of England can take advantage of the high speed, high capacity network to send data to and from any of the companies moving to MediaCityUK from 2011.

As well as offering connectivity of up to 1GB between each hub, NorthernNet wanted to encourage the digital and creative businesses to strengthen their supply chains and explore new R&D techniques to grow the industry.

However, the cost of providing transfer facilities, along with the high bandwidth capacity required, was considered to bt way beyond the financial capabilities of many small organisations.

Aspera’s patented fasp technology, which is designed to transport data at high speed, regardless of file size or network conditions, was deemed to be one solution.

“Aspera’s technology at each MAB location is invaluable to the NorthernNet offering,” explained Mercedes Clark-Smith, project director at NorthernNet.

“A 1GB digital pipe doesn’t stand out on its own but, coupled with the performance, security and reliability of Aspera’s technology, it’s truly unique.”

Potential opportunities

The NorthernNet project is currently offering its users the opportunity to transfer bandwidth-hungry projects in as near to real time as possible.

The partnership with Aspera means that small companies with poor networks and small budgets that have a broadband service now have the possibility to compete with larger companies by giving them the ability to transfer data of up to 40GB an hour, 20 times faster than an average FTP server.

It also has the potential to give businesses in the North the ability to collaborate with other agencies and relevant industries around them, to speed up the production cycle by sharing their knowledge and showcasing their work through the Northern Knowledge website (

For more information on Northern Net go to

For more information on Aspera go to: