A DELEGATION of Sinn Féin representatives have meet with the head of BT Broadband services, Mr Frank McManus. The meeting, which took place in Castlewellan, was attended by local Sinn Féin activists Clouncillors Willie Clarke MLA and Councillor Stephen Burns and former South Down candidate Naomi Bailie.
Willie Clarke said, “Our Castlewellan office is regularly inundated with calls from local people who have experienced difficulty, either in accessing a broadband line or in not being able to access a strong enough service to suit their needs. We requested to meet with Mr McManus to air such issues and to learn of BT’s plans for the South Down area in the near future.
“I am extremely happy with the outcome of the meeting, and I believe Mr McManus will personally strive to meet the demands that we put before him. For too long now, people living in rural areas of South Down have been disadvantaged in not being able to access a reasonable standard of Internet service. Frank has endeavoured to help deal with the issues we brought to the table and for that I am grateful.
“Local businesses in and around the Castlewellan area have experienced possibly most difficulty in trying to link into the current lines, and indeed at our meeting we were able to bring him face-to face-with some of those business people.”
Councillor Stephen Burns added, “Broadband in South Down has been a contentious issue for quite some-time now. We were able today to outline to BT, exactly what areas here require looking at in terms of developing their network and providing an acceptable standard to their customer base.
“Thankfully BT recognise that South Down presents massive potential for them in terms of growth, given that we are an area on the up, economically and socially. We are grateful to BT for assisting us in helping to make South Down a better place for people to live in, work in and visit.”
DETI Says Fibre Optics Is Way To Go
South Down Case Study … JR Annett – Warrenpoint
Northern Ireland’s experience with first generation broadband showed that it is an essential factor in stimulating the growth of new business and in maintaining competitiveness in an increasingly global economy.
Now the next generation broadband network being deployed across the region by BT on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, even greater economic benefits are quickly becoming evident.
One company that has already seen a tangible uplift in its competitiveness as a result of the impact of super-fast broadband is Warrenpoint-based JR Annett.
The business has been manufacturing pictures and mirrors since 1980 supplying furniture retailers across Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
JR Annett had broadband installed in 2007 which enabled it to have an Internet presence making the company more accessible to existing and potential customers. It meant the business could expand its marketing capability by using e-newsletters for monthly updates on special offers and to highlight new product ranges.
In July 2010, the business entered the UK market with broadband being at the heart of that expansion – enabling it to build up its operation cost-effectively.
It could now e-mailing catalogues providing significant savings compared to printing and mailing them to the UK.
However, JR Annett’s broadband speed at 4 Mbps was causing it a few problems being difficult to upload good quality images in a fast and efficient manner on to the company website. This became very frustrating, especially given JR Annett is in the image business where quality of image is everything.
In October 2010, the company took a quantum leap and switched to super-fast, fibre optic broadband and everything changed overnight.
Whereas in the past it would take between 30 and 40 seconds for a single image to load on the website, it now uploads straight away. Videos, which were impossible to upload properly beforehand, can now be put up onto the site with ease. The company now has plans to feature a selection of videos which explain the design process behind products as well as the products themselves.
And where catalogues had to be reduced in size and quality in order to make them suitable for e-mailing, they can now be sent across, full-sized in five minutes.
Previously it would take up to two hours to send.
Being able to send out catalogues and details of new products far more quickly, which provides a competitive advantage over competitors, is one example of how super-fast broadband has already made a tremendously positive difference to JR Annett’s business. The company is poised to continue to save money, improve customer service and win more business.