Mark Garnier MP has been seeing first-hand how the roll-out of faster fibre broadband by the Superfast Worcestershire partnership is transforming the way county firms do business.
His visit to Witley Jones, the Stourport-based education furniture specialists, coincided with news from lead partners Worcestershire County Council and BT that around 85 per cent of county businesses – and more than 90 per cent in Wyre Forest District – are now able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of the partnership.
The ambitious Superfast Worcestershire programme is on target to roll out high-speed fibre broadband to 90 per cent of the county’s businesses by this Spring in support of the County Council’s ‘Open for Business’ initiative.
Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest, said: “Earlier this month Superfast Worcestershire celebrated the milestone of 50,000 homes and businesses being able to connect to fibre broadband. Today 85 per cent of our businesses can connect transforming the way people work, boosting the economy and business efficiency. Worcestershire covers over a 1,000 square miles, improving and delivering the infrastructure takes time and as we focus on the rural areas of Wyre Forest and beyond more of us will see the benefits of a superfast connection.”
Mark Stansfeld, Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Access to superfast broadband is vital to enable businesses to compete on a global scale and it is fantastic to hear how these local businesses are benefitting from this technology.”
“Today’s announcement is great news and we are now working to extend access to more businesses and homes across Worcestershire. I would urge you to visit the website today and sign up so that you can benefit from superfast broadband at the earliest opportunity.”
Simon Downes, Sales Director of Witley Jones, said: “We run a busy office with 12 people, who may all be online at the same time using the internet for sourcing and researching supplies and designs. Each project is individual which means we are working with architects and designers, sharing large design files and plans on a daily basis. Upload speeds are particularly important when we have huge design files to share.
“Since upgrading to superfast fibre we have seen our upload and download speeds increase more than 10 times and everyone can be online at the same time with no delays making us more efficient and effective.
“On our shop floor we use specialist software to drive the machinery. The suppliers of our computer-controlled wood machinery are based in Italy and they can now remotely diagnose and fix faults reducing any delays in production.”
Chris Jones, Managing Director of Witley Jones and a Board Member of the Sandy Lane Business Association, said: “There are around 100 businesses on the Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, most of them are small to medium sized firms like ours employing local people.
“The arrival of superfast fibre broadband to the estate is great news for firms who want to grow their business using the benefits of this new technology. I can see the difference it makes to my own business and I’m very glad that more businesses on the estate can now access fibre broadband which will help to build a vibrant business environment.”
Councillor Ken Pollock, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: “High speed broadband is an essential tool for any modern business. Reaching this important milestone means the vast majority of Worcestershire businesses can now benefit from superfast speeds to enable their growth and development and we are continuing to work to close the gap even further over the next 18 months.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of Next Generation Access, said: “Superfast Worcestershire is a major engineering programme, but the roll-out is progressing extremely well. More than 50,000 businesses and households now have access to the technology as a result of the partnership – this figure rises to more than 230,000 when combined with BT’s own commercial programme.
“Every day we’re seeing how this technology is making a positive impact on local businesses and households. Whether it’s firms like Witley Jones, people working from home, families using the internet for education or leisure – everything you do online is faster and better with fibre broadband.”
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 there is a wide choice of fibre broadband service providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.