A celebration to mark the achievements of the Superfast Essex programme in improving broadband connectivity for business parks across the county was held on Thursday 11 February.
Businesses and representatives from Essex County Council, Braintree District Council, BT and The Federation of Small Businesses attended the event at The Essex Golf & Country Club which is next door to Earls Colne Business Park, one of the many business parks enabled by the programme to access fibre broadband.
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Waste and Recycling, said: “So far we have made superfast broadband available for 62,500 properties across Essex, around 6,200 of which are business premises. More than 140 business parks and industrial areas across Essex now have access to these superfast speeds and a further 80 are due to be upgraded under the programme in the next three years. This is great news for businesses in Essex and demonstrates how we are delivering on our commitment to improve broadband for businesses, with the underlying objective of helping the economy to grow.”
Giles Ellerton, East of England Regional Partnership Director for BT, said:
“Households and businesses are seeing the big difference the multi-million pound rollout of superfast fibre broadband is making. Businesses are able to engage with clients further away, including overseas, access a wide range of software packages for their industry, enjoy agile and remote working, and teams are able to work on the move and access documents thanks to cloud storage. The list of benefits is huge.
“The Superfast Essex programme builds on BT’s own commercial network which has already given more than 582,000 households and businesses in the county access to this exciting technology. We plan to continue at a rapid pace in 2016, reaching areas which pose some of the greatest geographical and technical challenges in the county.”
Several Essex-based businesses from fibre-enabled business parks across the county attended the event to discuss the positive impact upgrading to superfast broadband has had on their business.
Caroline Thomas, Managing Director of The Social Accelerators, based in Maldon, said: “Superfast broadband has transformed my business. Online video conferencing saves us money on flights as we don’t need to go overseas as much now.
Prospecting customers when Skype was dropping out wasn’t a great experience for us and now it’s much better. I would encourage every business to go for superfast broadband, the user experience is much better, it’s a speed you can rely on and you know that it’s going to deliver for you.”
Paul Pritchard of Abacus Accountancy, based at The Lakes Innovation Centre in Braintree which has had access to superfast broadband since being enabled by the programme in 2015, said: “The Superfast broadband has improved the services we can offer to local businesses beyond recognition.
“It enables us to offer a much better, more efficient service to our clients as we can easily upload and manage large files. Our VoIP telephone systems are also much more reliable meaning that our communications with clients are way more effective than they were previously. Our business is growing as a result of being able to offer a better service to our valued clients, and the amount of referrals and happy testimonials we receive has nearly tripled since having high-speed fibre installed. Not only are we working more efficiently than ever, but it ensures we can keep our costs down as well."
The Superfast Essex broadband programme, co-ordinated by Essex County Council, is aiming to encourage businesses to make the most of superfast connectivity when it arrives.
To achieve this, Superfast Essex is delivering a series of free expert-led Digital Business Workshops, in collaboration with the Eastern Enterprise Hub, on a range of topics including increasing online sales, attracting new customers, social media, blogging and the importance of Cloud-based systems. The workshops are suitable for current Essex-based entrepreneurs, or individuals intending to set up a business in the near future. Businesses can find out more and book to attend at www.superfastessex.org/digitaltoolkit.
As well as the workshops, Superfast Essex has launched a ‘Digital Toolkit’, including a Digital Health Check, to help businesses identify any areas where they can improve their digital expertise, and a ‘Fast Tips’ download which provides information and advice around a range of digital business topics.