Over the past 20 years the digital revolution has ushered in an era of 24-7 wireless internet, cloud-based storage, HD streaming and new concepts such as Internet of Things and smart technology. This has transformed the way we work, live and play, and as a consequence, powerful, high-bandwidth digital connectivity has become a must-have utility – just as important as water and electricity, writes Nick Gray, city development manager, CityFibre
The Thames Valley is embracing this movement with open arms, catalysing innovation, productivity and growth. It is now recognised as one of the UK’s most tech-savvy locations, while Berkshire (Reading in particular) has been singled out in the latest Tech Nation report as having the highest concentration of digital tech blue-chips and start-ups in the country.
It is, therefore, likely to be no coincidence that the Thames Valley currently boasts the highest economic output and productivity rates outside London according to recent studies. This is demonstrated further in last year’s EY Region and City Growth Forecast which reported that Reading and the Thames Valley region is expected to outperform the rest of the UK until at least 2019.
For this reason, it’s vital that the region continues to embrace and nurture its leadership in this space if it is to continue to grow and attract new businesses, talent and jobs.
Much emphasis has been placed on transport investment such as the Crossrail expansion set to open next year. This will of course benefit thousands of people and businesses across the area by improving connectivity between the Thames Valley and London. But what about the digital infrastructure we now depend on just as much?
Since 2016, Gigabit City builder CityFibre has been working with local telecoms specialist BtL to light up full-fibre networks across Slough, Maidenhead, Reading, and Bracknell to bring next-generation, ultrafast broadband services to the area. Wokingham will also join the gigabit network later this year.
Full-fibre connectivity offers a multitude of benefits. Not only do businesses gain access to the world’s fastest internet speeds up to 100 times quicker than the UK average, they also enjoy increased reliability and almost unlimited bandwidth potential. What’s more, for businesses, well documented advantages include increased efficiency, productivity and competition as well as greater potential for innovation in products and services.
The Local Enterprise Partnership for Thames Valley Berkshire supports this new digital infrastructure investment, recognising the boost it gives to local businesses and the overall competitiveness of the region. Bill Hicks, head of stakeholder engagement at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, said: “Digital connectivity is of paramount importance to our business community at large: our tech-based businesses depend on it, and more broadly, it is a critical infrastructure for our small business community in rural and urban areas alike.”
He added: “We have a twin-track strategy of ‘raising the floor’ and ‘raising the ceiling’ of internet
connectivity for the digital future. The demands on firms to manage data are increasing exponentially, and our sub-region has to be internationally competitive in its provision. This includes high-capacity broadband and 5G mobile.”
A full-fibre future is also on the horizon for the rest of the UK. The UK Government has now launched its promised Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund in addition to its plans to introduce tax breaks for fibre-to-the-premises investment, helping to incentivise, and therefore accelerate, full-fibre deployment across the UK by alternative providers such as CityFibre. By supporting innovating and forward-thinking businesses with future-proof full-fibre, the Thames Valley region can maintain and grow its status as a digital powerhouse. CityFibre and BtL are committed to supporting the region’s digital future and are delighted to help showcase the region’s best utilisers of technology at The Thames Valley Business Magazine Awards this November as sponsors of the ‘Best Use of Technology’ category.
For more information about Thames Valley’s Gigabit City networks, or to register your business’ interest, visit the website: