Superfast broadband gives St Andrews business the gift to connect

Bonkers gift shop in St Andrews is popular with locals and tourists alike, and now thanks to superfast broadband the business is benefitting in more ways than one.

The gift shop was set up by Lindsey Adam more than 30 years ago, and now has two shops in St Andrews and in Edinburgh. The business has grown steadily and also now offers online sales to its customer base, who appreciate the refreshingly different, quirky product range.

Thanks to the £410M Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, high-speed fibre broadband has recently arrived in St Andrews – where more than 6,100 local premises can now connect. Bonkers has been one of the first businesses to sign up – and already the move is paying dividends, with the retailer enjoying a broadband speed around ten times faster than its previous connection.

More than 150,000 homes and business are now able to connect to superfast broadband thanks to the government backed programme, which is rapidly expanding across Scotland as engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, continue work on local upgrades.

The new infrastructure will mean that multiple users in a home or business will be able to access the internet and download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before, if they sign up for a fibre broadband service.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to areas not covered by commercial deployment. Combined with commercial roll-out plans by the private sector, around 85% of premises in Scotland will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2015/16 and 95% by the end of 2017/18.

Lindsey’s partner, Patrick MacEwen, who manages the IT systems for Bonkers, said: “Fibre broadband is already making a huge difference to the efficiency of the business. We are now enjoying broadband internet speeds of more than 38 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload. Amazingly, this upload speed is ten times faster than we had previously.

“Having fibre broadband is really transforming a number of important operations for us. Firstly, it is making it so much faster and easier to transfer data between our two stores and our Head Office in St Andrews. We have a sophisticated till management system and all data from the shops gets uploaded to HQ. This process is now practically instant and having better access to live data is enabling a dramatic improvement to our business management, as we can keep track of stock so much more effectively.”

Patrick continued: “There is a great benefit to us as a retailer, as all credit card transactions are made over the internet. Since we have had fibre broadband, we have seen a fantastic improvement in response times. For town centre retailers like us, this is really significant as it means that customers get faster service and there is less build up of queues at the counter. At busy times such as Christmas, weekends and public holidays like today (St Andrew’s day) the benefit of this is immense, and in some cases, it may even mean we can retain a customer we could potentially otherwise lose, if they were put off by queues. So this is a marvellous advantage for us.

“Fibre broadband is speeding up communications with our online store, which is of course reliant on robust internet connections and which is becoming an increasingly important part of the overall business.”

He added: “We also encourage our staff to get involved in posting to the business Facebook and Twitter accounts, and it is now so much faster and easier for them to upload images or short videos. This will all help us keep the business fresh and build connections with our customers, keeping our business top of mind.”

Lindsey said; “In so many ways, fibre broadband is revolutionising our business. Across the board, it is allowing us to increase our efficiency and productivity. This will help us continue to improve our profitability over time and continue to build a vibrant, successful business.”

The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland. More than 30,000 premises are now passed in Highlands and Islands and 120,000 in the rest of Scotland. Both projects are being delivered on the ground by BT, which is investing £126m in the programme.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister said, “It’s fantastic to see small businesses like Bonkers start to benefit from signing up to fibre broadband; already they are seeing that it brings them an enormous advantage. As the programme rolls out, more and more small businesses will be able to take advantage.

“It’s a fundamental part of the Scottish Government’s aim to deliver world class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, added: “It’s great to hear this testimony from a successful retailer about the rapid value a fibre broadband connection has added to their business. Fast, reliable communications are a vital component of business life today. We’re proud to be part of the Digital Scotland rollout bringing fibre connections within the reach of many Scottish firms which would not have had the option otherwise. As Patrick points out, a fibre broadband connection packs enough power to make a big difference to many small businesses.”

A new interactive map on the Digital Scotland website is now available to help users to find out if they can get the service.

While many premises in enabled areas now have access to fibre broadband, some may not be able to connect due to network topography and other technological factors. To be sure that you can get fibre broadband, check with your internet service provider.

The Rest of Scotland project is being supported through £157.6million public funding including £50 million from BDUK and BT’s private investment of £106.7million. The public funding includes funding from all 27 local authorities in the project area and additional funding from 14 local authorities who are investing around £51 million to increase coverage, meet local priorities and address the digital divide in their areas. Coupled with the investment in the Highlands and Islands region announced earlier in the year, it brings the total investment in fibre broadband in Scotland to more than £410 million.

The Rest of Scotland project area includes the following local authority areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, parts of Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire (apart from the Islands), North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.

The Highlands and Islands broadband project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and includes the following local authority areas: Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands).

About BDUK
Superfast Britain is a UK 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