Twenty businesses in Belfast have reported a rise in turnover – some by as much as a quarter of a million pounds – in just a month after the installation of a super-fast broadband connection.
Belfast City Council is running the Belfast Connection Vouchers Scheme – which allows businesses and charities to install high-speed fibre connections to their premises – and hopes to improve wireless and wi-fi access across the city, as well as placing additional wi-fi facilities in public buildings.
The total investment in the Super Connected scheme will be in excess of £20m and aims to make Belfast a world-class digital city, benefiting business, residents, visitors, students and investors.
Atlas Communications is just one of the firms installing broadband connections and has up to 40 new businesses ready to come on stream in the next couple of months.
All 20 businesses which Atlas has helped connect as part of the scheme so far have reported a rise in turnover. These firms include the SOS Group, which supplies school and office supplies, where staff were having difficulties demonstrating their digital whiteboard capabilities to schools while training, because they couldn't access broadband.
Manus Savage, programme manager for the scheme at Atlas, said that the speed of deployment and the lack of disruption to current business operations was key to success, with the equipment installed in a few hours, and up and running the same day. "A media production company was looking to establish an office in Belfast, but required a high-speed broadband connection which could support multiple users and offered a high upload speed to allow media to be quickly transferred to other sites," he said.
"This is a challenge to traditional providers, because a production typically only lasts a few months and rapid installation is key. Atlas was able to install wireless broadband service in one day, and distributed this throughout the building via wi-fi.
"One of the challenges these companies face is that the older buildings they occupy have poor connectivity.
"Atlas have been able to deliver high-speed broadband and leased lines to companies who would otherwise been forced to remain on slow DSL connections reducing their productivity and ultimately impacting their competitiveness in the market."
Super-fast broadband will allow users to take advantage of download speeds many times that of even the fastest broadband connection at present. That may not be hugely beneficial for most, but for those which tend to download a large amount of data – financial services, film and other sectors – it could be enough to persuade firms to base themselves here.