Firms based on business parks and industrial estates the length and breadth of West Northumberland can now experience first-hand why superfast broadband is good for business.
More than ten business parks and industrial estates in the area including Allendale
Forge, Princess Court Industrial Estate and Regents Drive, Low Prudhoe Industrial Estate, Corbridge Tinklers Yard, Bridge End and Haugh Lane Industrial estates in Hexham, Haltwhistle Industrial Estate and the Meadowfield Industrial estate in Ponteland, have been upgraded to the new high-speed technology thanks to the multi-million pound iNorthumberland programme.
Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Putting fibre in the ground is one thing, but ensuring businesses understand how that fibre can help them thrive is a different matter altogether.
“For some firms faster file and data transfers might free up hours of their time, others may be able to save money by moving the day to day running of their business to the Cloud, while for others it could enable staff to work from home or to communicate with long distance clients via video calls. For many it could be as simple as utilising social networking more effectively or maintaining a dynamic website.
“Every business may reap a different benefit, but we want to ensure that every business understands exactly what that is.”
In addition to rolling out the new network, iNorthumberland has developed a free programme of business support to help local businesses benefit from the new technology by them saving time, money and improving efficiency.
The advantages of having superfast broadband are considerable for businesses, enabling them to do much more in far less time, but it’s vital that individual businesses understand how they can apply the technology in a way that brings them the biggest benefits.
In September this year iNorthumberland in partnership with Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, launched a fully funded businesses support package which aims to regenerate and transform local businesses by teaching the knowledge and skills required to successfully grow an online presence using the latest applications and technology
Since then more than 100 businesses have signed up to the programme which includes one-to-one business adviser support, access to an online learning system, free master classes on topics such as social media and digital marketing as well as financial incentives for eligible businesses worth up to £400.
Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said:
“Small enterprises are the engine for local economies and never more so than in Northumberland where 96 per cent of the county is classified as rural. Faster broadband breaks down the barriers to doing business in the digital world like online trading, which helps to empower small businesses to find new markets, sell new products, try new business models and compete on an equal footing with larger businesses, not just in the UK but globally.”
The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, is being delivered by Northumberland County Council and BT. BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. The company is contributing £2.9 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas with Northumberland County Council investing £7 million plus its £7 million share of BDUK funds. The remaining £2 million is coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The ERDF funding will be used to enable fibre connections for more than 2,600 small and medium sized businesses in Northumberland.
iNorthumberland recently secured funding from the Government’s Superfast Extension Plan which will be used to further extend coverage in some areas not included in the current roll-out plans.
The majority of premises in Northumberland will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the UK via iNorthumberland and the commercial roll-out of fibre by BT’s local network business, Openreach. Openreach’s network will be open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northumberland households and businesses will benefit from highly competitive products and pricing.
For up to date information on available business support and the roll-out visit www.inorthumberlandbusiness.co.uk or www.inorthumberland.org.uk.