BT – supporting the North East region as well as the Great Exhibition of the North
Simon Yellowley – BT North East Regional Chair.
It’s an exciting time to be based in the North East; the Great Exhibition of the North is an incredible opportunity for the whole region to promote itself and for us to be proud of where we are from. As part of that celebration, the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit gives businesses from across the region the chance to learn, network and discover the commercial opportunities this region has to offer. And that includes my colleagues and me at BT.
BT is at the heart of helping serve communities and organisations across the North East. We are a major employer in the region – employing more than 8,500 local people and boosting the regional economy by £1,160 million every year. We have a significant presence in towns and cities across the region including Newcastle, Sunderland, South Shields, Darlington and North Tyneside – with some of BT’s largest contact centres based here in the North East. Earlier this year we also announced that we are creating around 145 new apprenticeship and graduate jobs across the North East as part of a drive to recruit the best in available tech talent. BT’s full employment impact is larger than the region’s civil engineering sector!
At the core of the services we offer is our network. It delivers a critical national infrastructure that is used by local organisations including the public sector, businesses of all shapes and sizes, as well as individuals. And at the centre of our strategic plans for the region is our investment in fibre broadband infrastructure. The arrival of fibre broadband has helped both small and established business to grow and diversify. According to the independent website thinkbroadband – 97% of the North East can now access superfast broadband with speeds of 24Mbps and above.
We are harnessing that fibre infrastructure to provide high bandwidth Wi-Fi services in key locations to the circa 1.5 million expected visitors to the Great Exhibition of the North over the duration of the festival.
As part of the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit, BT sponsored the talk on Future Rural: Ensuring rural businesses are not left behind – which looked at how digital connectivity helps rural businesses. Learning more about how innovation can work within rural areas, and the role of the rural area as a test bed for innovation is important as we embrace Industry 4.0.
At BT we recognise the key role that superfast broadband plays in delivering that innovation; we’re working hard to overcome the challenges to provide access to the final few per cent of premises in the most rural of our communities. Access to fibre broadband is a critical ingredient to ensure sustainable businesses can continue to survive and thrive in a digital world where the provision of good quality broadband is a basic requirement.
Openreach* is working with over 580 communities across the UK in Community Fibre Partnership arrangements. Both parties co-invest in fibre infrastructure to bring superfast broadband to the community for a fixed cost. Interested parties should in the first instance check to see if their property is included in any planned upgrade, and if not, then register their interest via the Community Fibre Partnerships website, where Openreach can discuss co-investment opportunities where appropriate.
Rural communities that want to find out if they either already have access to fibre broadband, or are in a plan for deployment by checking on the Openreach line checker site.
* Openreach, Britain’s digital network business and a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group.