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CASE STUDY: Superfast Broadband Fuels Business Expansion in North Staffordshire

19th May 2016

Small businesses in an area of North Staffordshire are enjoying the sweet taste of success after upgrading to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country.

AdGiftsOnline, who supply bespoke confectionery and promotional gifts around the world, is one of several small and medium-sized firms based at Lymedale Business Centre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme looking to expand its workforce - and international reach - after upgrading to superfast broadband.

Lymedale Business Centre, in Hooters Hall Road, is the first area of the county where 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP*) technology has been deployed as part of Superfast Staffordshire, the broadband partnership being spearheaded by Staffordshire County Council and BT, as part of the Government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

FTTP - where fibre optic cables are installed from the telephone exchange direct to a building - enables the small and medium businesses based there to access download speeds of up to 330 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads of up to 30Mbps*.

Tony Altham, managing director of AdGiftsOnline - a family business whose customers include national and internationally famous brands, such as Disney, JCB and Google - said: "We offer a range of branded promotional products as diverse as confectionery, umbrellas, advent calendars and footballs and plan to set up new websites dedicated to the different kinds of product. Fibre broadband is allowing us to upload and update all our websites with ease and enabling us to share large artwork files instantly. This will help us expand the business in ways not possible before.

"Since upgrading to superfast fibre broadband we've been able to move all our online work onto a cloud-based system. This gives us much more flexibility and enables us to carry on working remotely away from the office with access to all the files we need wherever we are making us much more efficient."

Flat Vision Products Ltd, Luminite, PlinkFizz, Andy Kerr Associates LLP, MyPremier and Smarterways are among the other firms based at Lymedale Business Centre also reaping the benefits of upgrading to FTTP recently.

Martin Bose, managing director of Flat Vision Products Ltd, said: "Upgrading to superfast broadband has made a big impact, especially with our overseas operations."

The company provides LCD displays for many sectors including health organisations, industry, military and leisure. Network Rail, Marks & Spencer, the Royal Navy, Stoke City FC and Centre Parcs are among its customers.

Martin added: "Because all our screen displays are customised, we regularly have to share lots of different engineering drawings and product specifications with our factories in Taiwan and South Korea, so we can do this more quickly and easily now.

"It has also improved the way we work in the office as it's easier to handle electronic mail. We need to follow trends and the needs of our customers by browsing websites, which we can do more easily now.

"The upgrade to fibre could not have come at a better time for us because we were planning to expand our product range, which we could not have considered doing without having the new technology in place. It's also enabling us to take on more staff."

Kerryanne Clancy, PR account manager for PlinkFizz, explained how it is helping their business be even more professional: "We create designs for print and online for clients, which need to be sent back and forth for approval before being sent to printers and web builders. We also commission a great deal of photography work for our clients and, again, these are sent to us as high res images which are huge file sizes.

"Both of these daily processes now take us minutes, rather than hours, which is helping to improve our efficiency as a business and making us appear more professional to both clients and suppliers as we're able to hit tight deadlines. Fibre broadband has improved our external communications considerably."

Tanya Ward, sales manager for Smarterways, who provide managed IT and IT security services, said: "Our broadband service is far more reliable since upgrading to superfast fibre."

Lyndon Eaton, director of IT business - Luminite - said they were now enjoying a superfast broadband connection at a very reasonable price.

He said: "As a result of BT and Staffordshire County Council laying the foundation for facilitating fibre to the premises, not only have we benefited from the much improved speeds ourselves, but have also been able to expand our own product portfolio as a broadband reseller, providing us with another route to market to the other businesses within the centre.

"We work with a growing number of businesses within the Lymedale Business Centre itself, and because of the more robust broadband now available, businesses within the centre are able to take full advantage of our telephony solutions, which will reduce costs in terms of line rentals and call charges, while at the same time improve efficiency and functionality."

More than 86,000 businesses and households across the county are now able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of Superfast Staffordshire.

The figure rises to more than 464,000 when combined with commercial roll-outs by private sector companies, such as BT.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council's economy leader, said: "The Superfast Staffordshire programme has been making a real difference to people and businesses across the county since the first fibre cabinet installation two years ago. People are better connected and have more opportunities as a result.

"Today we are marking the first ultrafast fibre to the premises installations at the county council-run Lymedale Business Centre - boosting productivity and aiding expansion. The businesses there have already told us how connecting to ultrafast broadband has improved their day-to-day working. We're sure this will be the first of many business premises to get connected to ultrafast broadband."

Ian Binks, BT's regional manager for Staffordshire and the West Midlands, said: "We hope these will be the first of many premises in Staffordshire to benefit from ultrafast broadband. Every day we're seeing how faster fibre broadband is making a positive impact on businesses and households. Whether it's sharing large files of information or updating customers and suppliers, everything is easier and better with fibre broadband."

People can follow the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out and find out more about how it is benefiting other businesses at Lymedale Business Centre and elsewhere via the website:

Lymedale Business Centre is part of Lymedale Business Park, which was developed by Staffordshire County Council.

Other businesses to benefit from the FTTP roll out include:

Lyndon Eaton - Luminite

Daniel Bomberg - MyPremier