Businesses on the Manvers Business Park in Cotgrave have become the latest to benefit from a £29m investment in Nottinghamshire’s digital infrastructure.
They’re some of more than 70,000 extra homes and businesses that now have access to superfast fibre broadband, thanks to the Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire (BBfN) programme led by Nottinghamshire County Council and BT.
According to the independent www.thinkbroadband.com, superfast broadband is now available to around 96 per cent of properties in Nottinghamshire, making it the best connected county in the Midlands and in the top three areas in the whole of the UK for digital connectivity.
It means that places like Manvers Business Park now have access to superfast download speeds of more than 24Mbps for the first time.
Crocodile Stores, which sells toys, games and outdoor play equipment from its base on the business park is one of those benefitting and has already noticed significant improvements since taking advantage of the better broadband connectivity available.
Managing Director, Matthew Kirby set up the company 14 years ago after seeing how much his own children enjoyed playing on a climbing frame.
He said: "We have been crying out for better broadband as the old connection dropped out frequently, causing us all sorts of issues.
"We sell a lot of our products online, so need constant access. We upgraded to a faster service as soon as it became available and we can now work much more quickly and allow us to adopt online business tools with the confidence that the broadband is there to support them. It has made us more efficient in all manner of ways, which has to be good news for our customers.
"The majority of the staff at Crocodile Stores are from Cotgrave, so staying here is very important to us - this upgrade means we can do that and grow our business here."
BBfN is one of the biggest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in the county. It has helped increase broadband coverage across Nottinghamshire from 85 per cent in June 2014 to around 96 per cent currently. In Rushcliffe, where Crocodile Stores is based, superfast broadband availability has increased from 73 per cent to 94 per cent.
When the second and current phase of the programme is completed in 2018, superfast broadband will be available to more than 98 per cent of homes and businesses in Nottinghamshire.
Councillor Diana Meale, Chair of Economic Development Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "The BBfN programme has helped Nottinghamshire become one of the best connected counties in the country, which is great news for local people, the local economy and local jobs.
“Companies like Crocodile Stores in Cotgrave are a great example of how access to better broadband is providing great improvements to the way the company operates, allowing them to stay and continue to grow in the community where they were formed.
"The County Council still has an aspiration for 100 per cent superfast broadband access across Nottinghamshire and we are currently in the process of constructing a funding package for a third phase of BBfN, which we hope can bring us ever closer to that ultimate aim.”
Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for next generation access, said: “We’re making great progress overall in Nottinghamshire with lots more work to come. It’s great to hear examples of how local businesses, like Crocodile Stores, are using the technology to improve their online fortunes. The rollout of fibre broadband provides a long-lasting boost for small businesses throughout the county.”
David Ralph, Chief Executive of the D2N2 Local enterprise Partnership, which is investing £2.63m in the Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire scheme, said: “It’s a core priority for D2N2 to widen access to faster, fibre-optic broadband across its area. The latest milestone is very welcome news.
“D2N2 has agreed to invest £4.8m into BBfN and its equivalent in Derbyshire, ‘Digital Derbyshire’, from its current £192m Local Growth Fund allocation.”
BBfN is only being rolled-out in areas which are not served by the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the high speed technology – often giving homes and business access to fibre broadband, with download speeds of up to 80Mbps, for the first time.
Residents and businesses can find out more about the benefits of fibre broadband and check if their property falls within the BBfN roll out areas at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/broadband
Businesses and residents need to make arrangements with an internet service provider to get faster fibre services once they are available in their area as the upgrade doesn’t happen automatically. And because the work is being carried out by Openreach, BT’s local network business, residents can choose from a wide range of service providers.
Benefits of fibre broadband include faster download and upload speeds; the ability to access the internet via multiple devices without experiencing a slow connection, faster downloads of films and music, a better online gaming experience, improved file sharing for businesses, solutions based on Cloud computing and being able to work more flexibly.