Resolve Broadband Problems Firms Urged

Posted by Peter Cochrane on July 9, 2002

EADT, July 9, 2002 07:30

Businesses and communities without broadband internet access should "stop complaining and get on with it" by solving the problem through collaboration, a leading communications expert told delegates at a conference in Suffolk.

The event, entitled Technology Enabling Business, was held at the Framlingham Technology Centre and sponsored by local company eVo76.

Speakers included Peter Cochrane, who was Head of BT Research at Martlesham Heath from 1993-99 and who joined his own company, ConceptLabs, in 2000.

"British businessmen and women tend to be such linear thinkers," said Dr Cochrane. "The world today is multi-dimensional and we need to think in a non-linear way if we are to benefit from technology.

"We have to understand that we are running a partnership with silicon. If local businesses embrace the benefits on offer, they can be as successful as anyone."

Atlhough technology had brought massive benefits within the workplace and enabled business-to-business communications to bring huge savings to companies, business-to-customer communication had suffered significantly from a lack of bandwidth, he said.

"Why is it that most businesses within the region are operating with high spec IT equipment within their premises, commonly with hard drives of many GBs capacity and clock speeds of well over 1GHz and yet access to the internet is likely to be restricted to a maximum speed of 56kbit/s?" asked Dr Cochrane.

"With access to greater bandwidth, businesses will be able to do so much more: they will work faster, have greater access to information, be more creative and ultimately more efficient and effective."

Dr Cochrane acknowledged that access to broadband and its price were seen as key issues but there was, he said, a way forward.

"Look, if BT won't provide access at a realistic price, then it is up to communities – businesses and households – to come together to solve their own problems," he said.

"The technology is available for communities to set up a Wireless Local Area Network, WLAN, between houses and businesses and use one central satellite connection. The costs are realistic and the community has control. Let's stop complaining and get on with it."

There was also a presentation from Paul Keegan, a senior manager from the DTI directorate responsible for the "UK online for business" initiative.

He said the Government target of 1.5 million SMEs online by 2002 had been exceeded by 200,000, although he stressed that the team was not complacent and promised to feed comments regarding rural broadband access back into the department.

Martin Ferguson, managing director of eVo76, said after the event: "All too often I see local companies being held back simply because they are not aware of what technology is available now or will be in the future.

"I wanted to make information accessible, so that decision makers can make an informed judgement about how it will affect their business."