Nigel Huddleston MP has been seeing first-hand how the roll-out of faster fibre broadband by the Superfast Worcestershire partnership is making a positive impact on businesses.
His visit to the offices of RCA Regeneration, in Droitwich Spa, coincided with news from lead partners Worcestershire County Council and BT that more than 75 per cent of businesses in the county are now able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of the partnership.
When the ambitious programme to roll out high-speed fibre broadband across the county was announced just over two years ago, the partnership set a target of reaching 90 per cent of the county’s businesses in support of the County Council’s ‘Open for Business’ initiative.
Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid Worcestershire, said: “Millions of jobs and more than 12 per cent of the UK’s economic activity is sustained by the internet and for many businesses, access to high speed internet is as important as access to transport and power.
“Modern businesses cannot function effectively without high speed access, so I am very pleased that we have already hit 75 per cent fibre in Worcestershire and am confident that the Superfast Worcestershire partnership will soon achieve the even more aggressive goals.”
RCA Regeneration Limited, a planning, development and transport consultancy, based on Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate, upgraded to high-speed fibre broadband as soon as the technology became available on the estate.
Robert Csondor, its Managing Director, said: “We can now perform tasks we couldn’t do before, our decision making is better and in turn this will save us money – fibre broadband is critical to that process.
“Having high-speed fibre broadband really helps us on a daily basis especially when working on planning applications and appeals. This is because we regularly need to access the internet to research supporting information. Also, the majority of planning applications now have to be submitted online, and will typically include forms and computer aided design (CAD) files as well as photos, plans and statements so files to be uploaded can be very big. Uploading these files now takes a fraction of the time it used to.
“We’ve also now been able to install a new system to organise and automate customer information. Reports which would have taken weeks to prepare manually can now be completed in a fraction of the time because the information is well organised and available immediately.”
Councillor Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: “The Superfast Worcestershire partnership is well on the way to achieving our ambition of enabling at least 90 per cent of county businesses to access high-speed fibre broadband. This is a really important priority for us to ensure Worcestershire is open for business.
“The benefits to business of all sizes are numerous. Faster fibre broadband can stimulate business growth, improve efficiency and cut costs. It’s great to see local businesses such as RCA Regeneration benefitting so quickly from upgrading to high speed fibre broadband.”
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We know how important this technology is locally in ensuring that Worcestershire continues to be a world class place to do business. Digital connectivity and extending the rollout of Superfast Broadband has therefore been prioritised for funding through the Worcestershire Growth Deal.
“I would encourage people and businesses to register for updates so you can upgrade at the earliest opportunity as you do need to upgrade to benefit from the high speeds.”
Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for broadband partnerships, said: “Today marks another very important stage in the roll-out of this exciting technology across Worcestershire. Every day we’re seeing how it’s transforming the lives of businesses and residents alike, whether people are running a business or working from home, or families are wanting to go online with different devices all at the same time.
“Having access to faster fibre broadband allows you to do things more quickly and efficiently and opens up opportunities for new and exciting hobbies and leisure activities.”
Details of which communities will be upgraded during the second phase* of Superfast Worcestershire will be announced later this year. In the meantime, people can find out when faster broadband is coming to their area and how to get it by logging onto: www.superfastworcestershire.com.
Residents and businesses will need to sign up for a fibre broadband package to benefit from improved speeds, but because the network is being installed by Openreach it is ‘open’, so everyone can choose from a wide range of broadband service providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.
Pictured from left to right: Sian Griffiths (RCA), Nigel Huddleston MP, Steve Henderson (BT), Chris Walklett (Worcestershire LEP) and Robert Csondor (RCA).