Superfast underpins UK BIDs
Tuesday 15th August, 2017
“High-speed broadband helps businesses grow. It helps commercial districts attract inward investment and delivers a boost for local economies. That’s why we’re starting to see more Business Improvement Districts partnering with us to bring superfast broadband to help firms in their area remain competitive.” Matt Lloyd, Head of Community Fibre Partnerships, Openreach
Fibre helps commercial districts flourish
For more than a decade now, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have been working to achieve growth and prosperity for city centres and other commercial or industrial areas up and down the UK.
A BID is an arrangement where businesses operating in a defined area get together to fund and run projects that improve their environment.
The nature of these projects varies. However, many BIDS are recognising how superfast broadband can underpin their growth strategies.
A good example is the BID established for Sutton Coldfield in the Midlands. Parts the town centre were not covered in the national, commercially-driven rollout of fibre broadband, or included in plans to benefit from the government’s BDUK programme.
However, the BID recognised that local businesses in parts of the town that had poor broadband needed to be able to access to fast fibre technology to stay competitive. Unless the BID took action, town centre businesses would be hampered by an inability to work efficiently and effectively.
The action Sutton Coldfield took was to begin working closely with BT and its Community Fibre Partnerships programme. The partnership was successful in creating a superfast network to benefit the whole community.
So far, the BID has enabled three brand new fibre broadband cabinets to be installed in and around the town centre. Businesses that are connected to the cabinets can take advantage of fibre broadband via a service provider of their choosing.
Jack Adkins of local firm Adkins Research Group was one of the first small businesses to upgrade to superfast. He said: “What has really helped boost my business is that the BID committee persuaded BT to install fibre. Our fast broadband connection has really helped with our day-to-day business.”
Made possible through partnership with BT
Recognising how vital it is to have high quality connectivity, Sutton Coldfield BID is now working with BT to install more brand new fibre cabinets in the town centre.
Cardiff’s shopping centre, Castle Quarter, is in the heart of the Cardiff BID area. However, many Castle Quarter businesses have been at the mercy of slow broadband speeds - a situation that was all at sea with the city centre’s plans to become a more vibrant and attractive place for shoppers.
BT, through its Community Fibre partnership programme worked with the Cardiff BID committee to create a business case to invest in fibre installation.
The committee quickly became clear about the benefits that fibre connectivity would bring to the shopping centre and how it would support the BID’s major ambitions for Cardiff.
Ed Hunt from BT, who worked closely with the Cardiff BID committee in developing the project, said: “The Cardiff committee was methodical in how it went about assessing demand for fast fibre broadband, weighing up the compelling price they were quoted, and then calculating its impact and benefits. The project was given a green light within weeks.”
The Cardiff BID signed a Community Fibre Partnership contract with BT which means that four brand new fibre-enabled cabinets will be installed in the Castle Quarter area.
Adrian Field, executive director for Cardiff BID, said: “Upgrading the broadband capabilities of the Castle Quarter will have a tangible impact on businesses in the area, enabling them to operate the way you would expect from a business in the capital city, thereby helping Cardiff retain businesses and, indeed, attract new ones.”