The Department for Culture Media & Sport, the Government ministry overseeing the UK roll out of superfast broadband, has praised Northamptonshire County Council‘s ‘public private partnership’ approach to getting the county’s business parks better connected.
While the department is charged with ensuring faster broadband for domestic properties, there has been widespread concern that the business community across the UK could be left behind if they are located on what the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) refers to as ‘Jurassic Parks’ – industrial estates with poor, almost ‘dial up’ connectivity speeds.
In 2014 Northamptonshire County Council developed a strategy which began in Corby – the area that had some of the worst connections in the UK – and invited private ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to invest in connecting business parks out of their own pocket – the payback being more businesses would sign up to the service.
The first ISP to spot the potential was WarwickNet which has in the last 18 months connected Corby gate Business Park, Weldon North Industrial Estate, Willowbrook East Industrial Estate, Weldon South Industrial Estate and Corby Business Centre, as well as nearby Kettering Venture Park and Telford Way Industrial Estate.
Sarah Naylor, Northamptonshire County Council’s programme overview manager for broadband, said: “This initiative to get private businesses to invest in the county helps put Northamptonshire on the business map and also reduces the dependence on the council tax payer’s money to achieve this ambitious aim.
“We are delighted that the scheme has attracted companies such as WarwickNet because they have a strong reputation and a desire to expand into new areas and markets, which is good for them and good for Northamptonshire.”
“We are also pleased that the approach has been welcomed by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.”
In a letter, Ministerial Support Advisor Syed Ali, said: “We are always delighted to hear of successful private public partnerships and wish Sarah and her team all the best for the future.”
Ben King, chief executive officer at WarwickNet, said: “It is great to see Northamptonshire County Council gaining national recognition for its enterprising approach to inward investment. Consequently, Northamptonshire is rapidly becoming one of our most connected counties in the UK and providing superfast broadband to these additional sites means that even more businesses can benefit from our services.
“We’re offering all sites a range of business-grade broadband and high-capacity leased lines, along with voice and online backup capabilities and can provide tailored packages to suit every organisation.”