During the last decade, Andrew has invested in a range of innovative agri-tech, which
requires a reliable Superfast broadband connection and strong Wi-Fi to integrate most eﬀectively and provide optimum efficiency in an ever-developing agri-tech sector.
The Williamsons have struggled with poor broadband for many years which created lots of challenges for all the family and for the agri-tech systems that make the farm run more efficiently. Slow broadband was a source of frustration since the family needed it for everything from emails and internet banking to mapping field data for spraying and fertilising. Andrew also needed to use the internet for the farming business to submit VAT returns online
“We had a very slow broadband connection of around 1mbps – even general internet browsing was difficult. Watching a three-minute clip on YouTube would take about 15 minutes. By 2020, we have to be able to submit quarterly accounts online. We do all our applications for grants, subsidies BPS (basic payment scheme), payments online.
We registered interest as soon as we heard about it and I rang up to see if it would work for us. Airband sent out an engineer to see if it was a viable solution for us and it was. Airband engineers returned within a fortnight to install the service. The engineers arrived by 9am and installed the receiver on the house and wired it into the router provided. By lunchtime we were up-and-running.”
Andrew was aware of the Connecting Shropshire programme and found out that Airband were delivering Superfast broadband access within his area.
“We are delighted with the service we are getting. Having superfast broadband means we can do the things everyone else takes for granted. It makes our lives a lot easier and I can’t imagine being without it now.
I use software applications to spread seed, fertilisers and sprays at a ‘variable rate’ in the fields. Generally I create a map, which I then transfer to the tractor using a USB stick. Now that I have better broadband connectivity at the farm, my next objective is to improve my mobile phone connectivity. Also, now that I have better broadband and a stronger Wi-Fi signal, I am looking to create a Wi-Fi hotspot in the farmyard which will upload data from the tractor into the farm software as soon as it comes back from the field into the farmyard.
Having an Airband superfast broadband connection means that I can quickly and easily sort out online farming admin and it also adds social options that we have never had access to before. We can watch films without any buﬀering. It’s a very reliable and robust service. It has been a very positive experience to date and on the times I have had to contact Airband they have responded very quickly.”
Andrew has Airband’s Superfast HomePlus package, which offers 30mbps download, 2mbps upload and unlimited data.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme supports the cost of installing full fibre broadband connections direct to businesses for the fastest and most reliable gigabit-capable broadband speeds available.
Through the scheme SMEs can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of full fibre broadband connection, either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can also benefit from the scheme as part of a group project and can claim for a voucher of up to £500.
The Scheme is operated by Broadband Delivery UK, and not Connecting Shropshire or Shropshire Council.
How to apply:
The scheme is only accessible through broadband service providers that have registered to be part of the scheme, so businesses/community groups interested in benefitting from a voucher should:
- Check whether they are eligible for a voucher here.
- Then check whether there are registered suppliers in the area using the postcode search here.
Vouchers are issued to the supplier only to offset the cost of installation to your premises.
For full details about eligibility, to find a full fibre broadband supplier or read some case studies, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
As the Scheme is supplier-led, any queries should be directed to your chosen supplier. For a list of suppliers operating in your area, please visit: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/for-businesses/suppliers/
Secure Web Services (SWS) has recently commissioned additional fibre backhaul in the Corvedale valley to extend its broadband coverage to thousands more properties in south Shropshire. Two similar fibre nodes, adding further coverage, are expected to be commissioned over the next 12 months; one in the north-west and one in the south-west of the county.
Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “Secure Web Services are doing a great job in deploying a superfast broadband network without any public subsidy and have an excellent approach, collaborating with Connecting Shropshire to address the challenge of rural broadband infrastructure deployment.
To hear that SWS are investing in and growing their network to provide even greater coverage is fantastic, and helps towards Shropshire Council’s aim of providing all homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband.
As Cabinet member for economic growth, I know how important good connectivity is for Shropshire businesses, especially those in the visitor economy, which are often located in places remote from a wired broadband connection. It’s wonderful to read about how superfast broadband connectivity has benefited award-winning Eaton Manor, making them more attractive to visitors and streamlining their business operations.”
Case study – Eaton Manor Country Estate
Nichola Cariss, the owner of Eaton Manor Country Estate, describes the importance to her business of having a superfast broadband service: “We are very fortunate to be able to live and work in beautiful rural south Shropshire. One of the downsides has previously been very slow broadband which, as the world has become more online, became an increasing issue. Secure Web Services have provided the solution – a superfast broadband connection.
“This service has allowed us to grow our holiday-let business and provide a great service to our guests. We have accommodation for over 50 guests and provide broadband in all the properties, the games room, banqueting room and archery range. Our holiday guests love being able to stay connected while on holiday. Fast broadband has also allowed us to branch out into the business market, which use Eaton Manor for retreats and training. They appreciate having a beautiful peaceful location while still able to stay connected.
Most of the administration is now done online, again made possible by the SWS broadband service. The reliable broadband service has allowed us to grow into new markets; this has led to more jobs and helps keep our rural community a vibrant place to be.”
SWS coverage area
The map below shows where Secure Web Services is already delivering superfast broadband. If you are located in this area and you are looking for an alternative broadband service, please contact SWS on 0333 7000 227 or via their website at http://www.swsbroadband.net
£25,000 grant provides ultrafast broadband connection for Shropshire business.
Gwaza Ltd will soon become the first business in the Shropshire Council area to benefit from a dedicated grant, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Shropshire Council. The £25,000 grant from the Marches & Gloucestershire Broadband Grant scheme will provide Gwaza with access to ultrafast broadband.
Gwaza was founded by John Price in 1967 primarily as an electric fencing manufacturer, known as Salop Fencing Ltd. The company expanded into gate and general steel fabrication serving the agricultural, automotive and industrial sectors. As their distribution into the aftermarket for engineers, agricultural dealers and retailers developed, the company was re-branded as Gwaza Ltd.
CommsCo have been selected by Gwaza to install a dedicated service of 300 Megabits per second both download and upload, which will significantly enhance the company’s digital capability.
Managing Director Victor Edwards highlighted the key benefits the new service will bring: “Our IT focus is yielding growth that is outstripping the currently available Internet infrastructure. In recent years Gwaza has invested heavily in technology to streamline and expand our business. We have our own B2B website, catalogue, product information, and ordering portal, providing web shops and ordering portals for a small number of dealers.
“This has led to trialling customer order processing systems which are offered to the dealer to allow them to pass through orders direct from their online platforms. We are also trialling remote warehouses in Europe, operated by our dealers. The dealers also utilise online systems to manage stock, process orders, request deliveries etc. so our broadband infrastructure is crucial.
“Currently Gwaza is fortunate that many of their customers access their website and order portals outside of normal business hours, in a bid to avoid congested Internet traffic. By having access to an ultrafast synchronised service Gwaza customers will be able to order on demand, significantly improving the customer experience and ensuring next day delivery targets.
“To accommodate the increased level of order fulfilment, Gwaza anticipates hiring additional staff once the new systems are embedded and new customers are attracted. In time, Gwaza anticipates needing to invest further in their warehouse and packing facilities to accommodate the increase in demand.”
Nav Mohammed Technical Director from CommsCo said: “Upon initial engagement with Gwaza, it became apparent that they required an ultrafast connection due to the nature of their business and bandwidth required for effective operation. Gwaza also needed a find a solution that would provide bandwidth expansion to allow for continued growth.”
A dedicated Fibre to the Premises connection was identified as the most reliable and economically viable technology solution to fulfil the customer requirement.
Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, commented: “It’s great to see a Shropshire business benefitting from this grant scheme, which can fund up to 100% of the cost of installing a superfast broadband connection. I would encourage any business or business park owner struggling with broadband connectivity to investigate their eligibility for one of these grants, which are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
“You might be surprised to hear that the Marches & Gloucestershire Broadband Grant scheme is under-subscribed and the last thing we want is to have to hand money back to Europe at the end of the project. The clock is ticking and all grant applications must be submitted by the end of December 2018.”
The Marches and Gloucestershire Broadband Grant gives eligible businesses up to £25,000 to fund the installation of a superfast broadband connection.
If you run a business which cannot access speeds of over 30Mbps, and you are not already part of any current superfast broadband rollout plans, then you could be eligible for a grant.
Businesses wishing to find out more, please go to the following page on the Connecting Shropshire website: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/business-broadband-grant/
Registering for the grant is a simple and easy process, but all applications for the grant must be completed before December 2018.
Businesses can also benefit from further business support through the Marches Growth Hub and get access to free support from a Business Adviser. For more information, go to: https://www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk/about-us/shropshire/
In the Spring Statement, the government committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain. As part of this commitment, a £67 million Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme was announced.
Gigabit broadband vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses, and by residents surrounding them, to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable broadband connection.
Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which must also include one or more businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500 per premise.
One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in broadband connection speeds that could benefit you and your business into the future.
For further details, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk
Please note: Connecting Shropshire has no involvement in the administration of the Scheme, and we are unable to respond to queries about it.