Rural Norfolk IT business crafts its future success as superfast broadband programme hits new milestone
A small Mundford IT business is one of the latest Norfolk businesses to reap the benefits of superfast broadband as the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme announces that it has now made faster, fibre broadband available to more than 170,000 homes and businesses across the county.
The announcement comes on the same day as the Government celebrates more than three million UK homes and businesses having access to superfast broadband as part of its national rollout. BBfN is a significant contributor to this milestone, making high-speed broadband available to more homes and businesses than any other single county Broadband Delivery UK project in England.
Husband and wife team Andy and Val Hibbs run IT business Craft ICT from their home office in the quiet but thriving village of Mundford, near Thetford Forest. They were one of the first to sign up to the new service when superfast broadband arrived in the village recently.
Andy Hibbs said: “Our broadband speeds rocketed from 4Mbps to 60Mbps in the space of minutes. We knew it was exactly what we needed to make our business run more efficiently.”
Craft ICT had previously struggled to carry out simple daily tasks due to its broadband connection. “Broadband is essential to our business, our whole business model relies on it. But whenever we wanted to complete software upgrades or download customer files we’d have to set it to download or upload overnight because it would take so long,” explained Andy.
Now the company is implementing previously unavailable systems and reaping the benefits of cost and efficiency savings.
“What used to take hours can now be done in the blink of an eye. The need for local servers and numerous back-up discs has gone, we no longer have to own internal servers. Not only can we benefit from the hardware and electricity cost savings this brings, the “what-if” worry has gone too.
“Video conferencing is now seamless and has reduced our travel costs and therefore enabled us to offer a more cost-effective service to our customers. We can now re-think our business strategy and build it on a truly digital 21st century platform,” said Andy.
Mundford is one of the latest areas of Norfolk to benefit from BBfN, a partnership between Norfolk County Council and BT, which aims to ensure more than 80 per cent of Norfolk’s premises can receive a superfast broadband service (24 megabits per second and above) by the end of this year.
Dave Hughes, BT’s regional director for the East of England, said: “Today marks important milestones, both locally and nationally, for the superfast broadband revolution. This exciting technology is transforming the opportunities for communities across Norfolk and the UK as a whole.
“BT’s multi billion pound investment in superfast broadband through its involvement in partnerships, such as Better Broadband for Norfolk and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to more than 330,000 households and businesses in Norfolk – and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. Our engineers are rolling out the technology at a world class pace, reaching thousands more premises every week.
“Successful broadband partnerships are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a key role in the future prosperity of communities for many years to come.”
Dr Marie Strong, Chair of the Broadband Working Group and member on the Better Broadband for Norfolk Steering Group, said: “Investing in the infrastructure Norfolk needs to enable businesses to thrive, families to contact essential services, and school children to flourish is one of the council’s top priorities. We have made excellent progress with the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme and every month more businesses and homes in Norfolk are able to access superfast broadband. Just one good news story is seeing a rural business like Craft ICT able to be more efficient, keep costs down and remove barriers to success and profitability.”
Ian Monson, county councillor for the Brecks division which includes Mundford, said: “Broadband is one of the issues I am contacted about the most by the residents I represent. It’s a vital part of modern life and therefore crucial that we get our rural communities connected to superfast broadband. It is heartening to hear of the progress that has been made to date and I know that even more funding is being provided to bring better broadband to a greater number of homes and businesses in Norfolk as quickly as possible, which is very welcome news.”
Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment and member of a new government digital task force, recently met with businesses including Craft ICT when she visited Mundford, which is in her South West Norfolk constituency, to see the impact of superfast broadband on the village. “I’ve met businesses in Mundford who are making fantastic use of improved broadband – supplying clients in Brazil, Myanmar and the US,” the Minster said. “It’s for this reason that the roll out of superfast broadband is so important to the rural economy.”
A £17.9 million deal to extend the BBfN programme was signed by Norfolk County Council and BT earlier this year, funded by central Government, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk County Council and BT. Once installation work on both the first and second contracts is completed, it is expected that coverage of fibre broadband will reach 90 per cent of Norfolk premises.
And even more investment is planned. An extra £7m has been committed to help Norfolk contribute to the Government’s national target of making high-speed broadband available to 95 per cent of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2017 and around £5.3m in extra funding has been made available from BT as a result of the nationwide success of the Government’s broadband projects in delivering higher than expected take-up levels.
The high-speed network installed by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is available on an open, wholesale basis to all communication providers, therefore offering Norfolk households and businesses the benefit of real choice from a highly competitive market.
People can check whether their home or business can receive superfast broadband by visiting the Better Broadband for Norfolk website.
Notes to editors
Photo captions. Photo shows Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment and member of a new government digital task force meeting Andy Hibbs, Craft ICT.
Craft ICT case study. A full version of thecase study is available at: http://www.betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk/case-study-detail.aspx?craft-ict
BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world.It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of five customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979m with reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com.
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk