Business is all about connection. But the digital revolution has completely tipped the balance. We’re in the age of the consumer. Smartphones, superfast broadband and wi-fi have transformed the way we live, work and play. And businesses that want to survive and thrive in this brave new world can’t afford to get left behind.
But achieving all this takes much more than simply having an internet connection. Competing now isn’t just about doing the same things faster. It’s about whole new ways of working that ultrafast broadband enables.
With an ultrafast connection of a gigabit, you’ll be able to transfer data over the internet faster than you can write data to a thumb drive. Suddenly, you open up the benefits of cloud services – where applications and data are hosted and accessed from anywhere.
On the end of an ultrafast connection you and your colleagues won’t have to sit waiting for unresponsive applications to launch and for files to load. Instead you’ll have instant, secure access to the tools you need to get the job done, saving money and boosting productivity.
From there, it’s just a short step to more advanced applications such as IP telephony, web conferencing, and streaming video. All of these solutions run over the network and require more bandwidth to run effectively. But the extra bandwidth ultrafast provides can handle all of this simultaneously.
For example, the owners of a Cumbrian farm famous for its alpacas have seen "a world of difference” since getting superfast fibre broadband.
Owner Kim Inglis-Jeffries explains: "What we’ve found is with the fibre broadband, we can react much quicker, we can reach more people and we have started to have people who have come from Manchester or further afield who have seen something on social media and decided that they would like a hands-on experience.”
And a renovated Swansea venue, The Hyst, has tapped into the media revolution to stream TV quality images from live performances to social media channels like YouTube and Facebook.
"It is no exaggeration to say that we couldn’t physically do any of this without having the ultrafast broadband to power it all,” says co-owner Dan Evans. “Digitally broadcasting TV quality live or recorded content uses up a lot of bandwidth and without the ultrafast speeds it just wouldn’t work. It has helped what was a small independent business move onto the next level.”
Well, the good news is that the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a new Gigabit Voucher Scheme whereby SMEs* can claim up to £2,500 each to get a full fibre ultrafast connection**. You can even pool these vouchers for a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) solution delivered to multiple SMEs, for example, business parks.
The vouchers can be put towards a full fibre solution with Openreach via its Fibre Community Partnership programme, which helps communities get connected to the national fibre infrastructure. That means firms will be able to order the highest speed connections from the broadest range of suppliers. Information on how to apply for ultrafast vouchers can be found on our Fibre Community Partnership page.
The UK Government is in no doubt that superfast broadband is absolutely key in underpinning the economy now and well into the future. Where once home computers and mobile phones were seen as a fad, it’s almost impossible to imagine life without them now. Gigabit broadband will be the same – with forward thinking business who get in early pushing ahead of the rest.
Matt Lloyd, Senior Business Development Manager, Openreach
* Small and medium enterprises with up to 249 employees (in total in the organisation) and a turnover no greater than €50m per annum, and/or a balance sheet of no more than €43m.
**Vouchers up to the value of £500 per home owners toward a full fibre connection are also available when used in conjunction with an SME.