The most visible evidence of Northern Ireland’s successful creative industries comes in the form of hit TV series like HBO’s Game of Thrones or the BBC’s The Fall.
In addition to enhancing the region’s profile on the world stage, these shows are part of a sector forecast to play a growing role in our economic development. It’s a sector that takes in everything from advertising and design to games, music, TV, film and video and it has spawned hundreds of new businesses.
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure estimates the sector employs more than 36,000 people – some 4.6% of the workforce.
As well as a variety of fantastic locations and production facilities, one of the factors that makes Northern Ireland attractive to film and TV producers is the strength of its mobile communications network. Playing a key role in that is the mobile operator, EE, which is part of BT.
How its mobile technology benefits Northern Ireland is amply demonstrated by Shoot Communications, a company formed in 2005 to provide communications services to the events, film and television sector.
Using EE’s 4G network, the east Belfast based company provides Smart phones, mobile phones and modems as well as Radio Communications equipment for production teams on TV shows like Game of Thrones, the BBC’s Line of Duty and Can’t Touch This currently on our screens and the ITV drama, The Secret, based on the real life story of a respectable Coleraine dentist who became a killer in partnership with a Sunday school teacher.
Sacha Patterson, Managing Director of Shoot Communications, says: “TV and film crews need to communicate across multiple sets and filming locations – whether it’s the centre of Belfast or the middle of a field somewhere. And there’s been an explosion in their data use as they upload rushes to the cloud and review them, or communicate directly with production offices.
“This is integral to the smooth running of shows like Game of Thrones and it depends totally on the speed and reliability of EE’s network, especially their double speed 4G which is phenomenal. We’re seeing the fruits of the investment they’ve made in their network.”
Shoot Communications works in an industry that must meet its customers’ needs extremely rapidly. “It’s transient by its nature,” Sacha says. “If you need to set up a production office quickly, we can have you going within an hour with one of our 4G modems.
If it’s on a large scale, we have more powerful 4G devices that can run an office of 30 or 60 people. “It’s not just the extent of the coverage and speed of the network that’s important, it’s also the relationship that EE has built with us. When it’s needed, the service we get from the Belfast-based support staff - and from our account management team - is superb.”
According to Mark Henry, EE Area Business Manager, BT Business for Northern Ireland, the power of mobile technology is transforming how businesses and organisations here operate.
“The thriving TV and film industry is just one example of the benefits flowing from our investment in the network and in double-speed 4G which enables businesses to access large files and multi-task more easily without the need for a fibre connection. Take this in conjunction with our customer’s ability to manage their smartphone fleet through the fully inclusive device management suite, and you have a business tool, that adds value to any organisation.”
“The investment we’re continuing to make is helping Northern Ireland to compete with the most technically advanced regions of Europe and opening up a wealth of opportunities for business growth,” he says.
Mark Henry is the EE area business manager, BT Business for Northern Ireland. If you would like to have further information and to contact BT Business in Northern Ireland, please email firstname.lastname@example.org