May 2018 Breakfast Briefing

Date: 03 May 2018

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Milton Keynes should be on the next list of locations set to become an ultra-fast ‘gigabit city’, Giles Ellerton, BT Regional Partnership Director has told Milton Keynes Business Leaders. 

Giles, who works with local authorities and other stakeholders to deliver faster broadband and digital connectivity across the east of England, was speaking to MK Business Leaders Partnership members and guests at the business organisation’s latest breakfast briefing session.

He talked about the opportunities and challenges presented by the rollout of super and ultra-fast broadband for people and businesses in Milton Keynes, and for BT and its partner Openreach.  He suggested that with ‘full fibre’ connectivity, homes could enjoy gigabit streaming of data and even small businesses could compete on the world stage.  Openreach is to deliver its Fibre First programme nationally, including in Milton Keynes where BT employs 600 people, generates £500 million into the local economy and supports the ambitious £18 million MK:Smart and Data Hub projects. 

The next list of 40 places to receive government money towards becoming a ‘gigabit city’ is to be announced soon.  “Reliable sources say that Milton Keynes is on the list and it is right and proper that it is,” Giles said. 

He acknowledged that BT faced fierce competition from other broadband providers.  “That is good news for customers and there is a constant demand for more data and higher speed.  The job is not done yet,” he said.  Giles said he understood that not all businesses could access a super-fast connection but there were vouchers for up to £3,000 available from central government towards a solution.  “Approach your provider and talk to them about getting your voucher,” he said. 

A question and answer session followed and it included the plight of small firms on industrial estates and rural areas where businesses suffered at the end of very long and old-tech copper wire.  Giles said BT and Openreach cared about them but there were sometimes geographic and physical restrictions to face.  There were other options available including satellite 4G broadband which used an antenna, he said, and the government says a minimum 10mps should be delivered everywhere by 2020 - but exactly how that would work was still being investigated.

Dr Philip Smith MBE, chair MK BLP thanked Giles and said his talk had given them the chance to learn about the issues and challenges facing the broadband market in Milton Keynes.  “Having access to the highest speed of data and full digital connectivity across the city and borough is essential for maintaining Milton Keynes’ prosperity, and it is a high priority for MK Business Leaders Partnership when it engages with agencies and organisations about the continued growth of the city,” he said.