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Gigabit broadband speeds transform business operation in rural Staffordshire

Posted on Tuesday 6th June 2023

Day-to-day business operation for a home-based Staffordshire business could be an increasingly stressful experience due to an unreliable internet connection. It’s now been transformed completely thanks to a Fibre Community Partnership and the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

With instant upload and download ability and immediate connection to clients, Chris and Louise Saunders’ leaflet distribution business, Dor2Dor Stoke, has had a massive boost thanks to the partnership between Staffordshire County Council (Gigafast Staffordshire), Openreach and central Government (Building Digital UK).

It enables rural communities overlooked by commercial providers to connect to gigabit broadband speeds.

Chris became a community leader for the programme in Lea Heath east of Stafford and joined with nearby Drointon to form the fibre community partnership. Forty-eight premises have now been connected as a result.

Chris said:

The full-fibre connection has been brilliant – a real life changer. We do all of our business operation online and can now do anything at any time. Before we had to carefully plan and would have limited business time due to the copper connection, which could be affected by the weather.”

Louise added:

The business uses online portals to connect with clients and we also design leaflets, which involves uploading artwork. This used to be painful and could cause errors. Now it’s so slick and we can do things in a split second. Our business phones are rerouted to mobiles via the internet which is important as a lot of clients are small local businesses who want to be able to speak to you whenever they want.”

With many meetings taking place by video call, Chris said reliable connection is vital – helping to cut down on travel time and unnecessary costs.

And with a young son keen on gaming, the choice of downloadable games available in an instant has improved life, while the rest of the family can enjoy watching streamed programmes and films at the same time.

The wider community is realising the huge benefits too. Chris said:

This is a rural hamlet with more isolated residents who are now getting to grips with the technology. They’re making video calls to family and friends which they weren’t before and we’re not on a bus route, so this is ever more important. We’re also aware one of the farmers checks on his cattle using streamed CCTV, so it’s really helped his business.

The whole process has been seamless and we didn’t have to jump through any hoops. The communication from the programme team has been great throughout.”

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and climate change Simon Tagg said:

Openreach’s Fibre Community Partnership programme is making a real difference to people across the county – enabling areas harder to reach in terms of connection with gigabit broadband speeds.

As we can see from Chris and Louise’s experience – it has transformed their business and home life and brought their community together.

It’s great to see how rural business operations of their neighbours is vastly improved too. These are exactly the outcomes we wanted to see from the programme.

Faster broadband helps people to access health, education, banking and leisure services and more. It is also critical for business operations, growth and increased productivity.

Our long-term digital strategy focuses on gigabit technology provision for all communities, maximising the benefits of 5G roll-out, connecting isolated areas and growing our digital economy.”

Kasam Hussain, partnership director for the Midlands, said:

This is a really good example of what can be achieved when everyone works together. Openreach has worked closely with the county council, and the local community, to make full fibre a reality. People living and working in Lea Heath now have access to some of the fastest and most reliable broadband available in the UK, and it’s good for decades to come. They join more than 100,000 premises across Staffordshire that now have access to full fibre.”

More information on the scheme can be found on the Gigafast Staffordshire website.

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