Chamber Chat: Superfast Broadband

Paul Donno ANL-140731-160412001
Paul Donno ANL-140731-160412001

By Paul Donno

What lengths do local companies have to go to in order to access Superfast Broadband?

Following on from John Mayhew’s discussion last month on how critical Superfast Broadband is to the town’s business success we look at the experiences of two Chamber members.

Earlier this year local hotel and conferencing facility Days Inn took the decision to make a significant investment to improve their broadband provision.

Inconsistent broadband had been a cause of dissatisfaction for guests for quite some time and the management team at the hotel were keen to address the issue and to offer a free Wi-Fi service for guests and customers.

The Days Inn also wanted to encourage non-residents to use the comfortable and spacious Kingfisher coffee lounge and bar for business meetings and for socialising.

It was felt that providing free access to fast and reliable broadband would encourage local people to make more use of the facilities.

A BT Openreach dedicated fibre optic leased line was installed to provide a dedicated connection between the exchange and the hotel.

The benefit of a dedicated leased line over a standard broadband or fibre optic broadband solution, where the bandwidth is shared by everyone else on the local exchange, is that the hotel would receive a guaranteed bandwidth at all times.

With a dedicated leased line data could be both sent and received at speeds of 20mbp. A standard connection might provide downloads of up to 20mbps but uploads of data would generally be far slower at speeds of between 0.5-1.0mbps.

After choosing the best option on the market and hoping to offer one of the fastest broadband connections in the town the hotel were soon disappointed to learn that their Superfast Broadband was not quite as reliable as they had hoped.

On further investigation it was discovered that additional work was required to the infrastructure of the existing Wi-Fi delivery system within the hotel to ensure that residents and non residents could benefit fully from the free superfast broadband service.

At the beginning of this month new Cisco Wi-Fi access points were installed and the Superfast Broadband is now delivering as it should.

The total investment from Days Inn Haverhill to address the shortcomings of the existing broadband provision and offer their clients a free and reliable service has required a five figure investment.

On the other side of town the Haverhill Research Park is moving forward at pace. Planning consent has been received for an Innovation Centre – the Epicentre, which should open for business in September 2015.

A fast, reliable broadband service is a fundamental requirement for such a prestigious site. and Nic Rumsey, from Carisbrooke Investments, has already committed to installing a dedicated, uncontended, fibre optic broadband solution.

These two key businesses within the town could not afford to wait for the powers that be to determine their fate in the Superfast Broadband postcode lottery.

They have had to accept responsibility for providing an essential service, critical to their success, and make a significant investment to ensure they are able to satisfy the requirements of their marketplace.

Not every business is in a position to make such a large financial commitment.

It is imperative that the businesses of Haverhill and the surrounding area work together, alongside the Chamber of Commerce, to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.