Cardiff Breakfast Club 10th September – Ann Beynon, BT

Posted: September 10, 2012 in Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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Ann Beynon, BT’s Director for Wales, supercharged the Breakfast Club’s opening meeting of the Autumn season with a presentation on the ‘silent revolution’ the telecoms giant is bringing to Wales.

Ann smilingly said that she was ‘not going to apologise for the technical detail’ her in-depth presentation involved, as it was ‘important for your businesses to know’. However, she admitted that being trilingual and having studied Medieval Welsh perhaps helped it to seem less complicated!

BT has invested £2.5 billion into bringing superfast broadband to two-thirds of the UK by 2014, a deadline already brought forward by a year due to the roll-out’s success so far. This huge feat of civil engineering will build a revolutionary ‘superfast’ broadband infrastructure, with download speeds already hitting 80Mbps and 300Mbps on the horizon.

The superfast roll-out will happen on a number of levels. Firstly, the existing copper network, originally intended only for voice transmissions, will receive a fibre ‘overlay’. The familiar copper roadside cabinets will be joined by fibre network cabinets, with massive amounts of fibre already present in Cardiff. The second phase will take the fibre network from cabinets to premises on demand, offering speeds of 110Mbps.

Deploying fibre as an overlay to the existing network enables BT to offer reduced costs. Indeed, Ann stated that telecoms bills are the only utility rate to have decreased in recent years, despite modern life depending more and more on connectivity. The final platform, the Ethernet network, offers potentially massive speeds and is intended for business use. BT is also trialling expansion of their 4G and wi-fi technologies to deliver broadband signals.

Ann was keen to stress the importance of Cardiff to BT. The company’s Global Development Centre is housed in the Bay, with over 300 software engineers working in real-time with partnerships in the US and in India. Cardiff will also be 1 of 20 UK trial sites for the fibre-to-premises product. With BT’s help, Cardiff will soon become 1 of the UK’s 10 ‘superconnected cities’, with the results of a £12 million funding bid due this month.

These super speeds will have advantages across the board, from attracting inward investment, to enable local businesses to flourish and improving opportunities for home working. On a more social level they will facilitate greater digital inclusion, and encourage young, skilled professionals to stay in the area. Even the housing market would feel the benefit of ‘fibring up’, with 57% of respondents to a recent study saying they would pay more for a house with superfast broadband. BT also intend to create numerous jobs during the roll-out, as well as 100 apprentices.

Ann said that she genuinely believes fibre is a key part of any growth strategy for the UK economy. With Wales at the forefront of the revolution, we look set for a superfast future!

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