Last week, IT solutions provider Eye-Tech IT brought together political representatives, BT and small businesses to discuss local broadband challenges for the City of Bath.
Local business owners attended the event, held at the Bath Spa Hotel, to discuss broadband provision and put questions to a panel of speakers including MP for Bath Ben Howlett.
Also on the panel for the ‘High Speed Broadband, Low Speed Delivery’ event were Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES Council, Jonathan O’Shea, Interim Chief Executive Bath Business Improvement District, Laurent Boon, BT Programme Director for Connecting Devon and Somerset and Simon Mills, Managing Director at Eye-Tech IT.
The main issues voiced by delegates were the inconsistency of broadband provision, unpredictability of service and the threat this poses to new startups wishing to base themselves in the region.
The event’s lively Question Time format, Chaired by Chris Clemence, Commercial Director at Eye-Tech IT, helped to ensure all voices were heard.
The main message from the council and BT was that much good work has already been done but the original plan was to cover 90% of the community and more funds are needed to fill some of the gaps.
It was also stressed that the project is not finished and many thousand premises are yet to be connected before Phase I is completed.
The take home message was that broadband provision has been identified as an area that needs more focus and as the project enters Phase II, more flexibility in terms of providers may be possible.
The audience were informed of the council’s appointment of a dedicated Officer to deal specifically with this issue; businesses were also encouraged to find out from their local MP if they are eligible for financial support as part of Broadband Delivery UK.
Chris Clemence, Commercial Director of Eye-Tech IT and Chairman of the event, said: “Broadband, or lack of it, is clearly a hot topic both for the businesses and the communities that find themselves, for whatever reason, falling through the gap of broadband provision.
“There doesn’t yet seem to be a coherent plan as to how that gap is to be filled, beyond individual businesses or communities making significant private investment above and beyond the public money that has already been committed.
“The event was a great way to bring businesses and political representatives together in an environment where everyone could be heard.
“We hope that we have created a few waves and pushed this issue further up the agenda.”
Based in Midsomer Norton, Eye-Tech IT has been helping local businesses with IT support since 2002.