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Cycling hero Joe Waugh trials BT's G.fast fibre broadband

Thursday, January 28th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

A cycle shop owned by former Olympic athlete Joe Waugh has become the first business in the north of England to trial BT’s new ultrafast broadband technology.

M.Steel Cycles is testing BT’s G.fast technology – which uses a combination of fibre optic cables and copper wires – at its premises in the Gosforth area of Newcastle.

The trial, which covers up to 2,000 homes and businesses in Gosforth, is one of three taking place in the UK and is already delivering speeds up to 330Mbps.

In October, Cable.co.uk reported how retired payroll officer Margaret Broughton had become the first customer to trial the technology, which is now being used by Mr Waugh’s business.

Commonwealth gold medallist Joe Waugh, who competed for Britain in the road race event at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, said: “We had superfast broadband installed in the business before the trial so the speeds we were getting were already good.

“The big difference with ultrafast is that it’s so fast if you blink you’ll miss it – everything happens instantly.”

He said the shop’s tills are online and they now have direct accress to suppliers’ warehouses, allowing them to log into the website and see if a product is available.

“Ultrafast lets you do that in real-time. You punch in the details and all the information you need is there in a flash – customers have been really impressed by how quick it is.

“We also download suppliers’ files onto our system, containing things like pricing information, bar codes, product details, which then automatically updates our website.

“These can be heavy files and could at one time take up to twenty minutes to download. Now it’s instant.”

Mr Waugh, who is testing the technology via his service provider Zen Internet, said he plans to use the faster speeds to move the firm’s accounting system online and into the ‘cloud’.

“Currently our accountant has to travel into the office to look at the books but with the new online system they’ll be able to log on remotely whenever and wherever they are, saving time and money.

'Competitive edge'

“Everything is backed up in the cloud which gives you extra security and peace of mind.”

The Olympian, who joined M. Steel Cycles in 1981 as a tester for the company’s handmade, high quality racing bikes, said high-speed internet access is becoming critical for a business to survive.

He said: “It is a lot more competitive, you have to be online to survive and ultrafast broadband is something that would give us greater agility and scope for doing more online, to give us that competitive edge.

“It offers a whole new world of possibilities.”

The trial in Gosforth, which is open to all communications companies so it can be trialled with different service providers, will run for around six months.

BT, which is working on the trials with companies including ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei, said depending on the success of the trial and on UK regulation, it aims to start deploying G.fast in 2016/17 alongside its existing fibre broadband services.

The company believes G.fast will allow it to make speeds of 300-500Mbps available to 10m premises by 2020 and to most of the UK within a decade.

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the north east, said: “It is fantastic to see the difference ultrafast has made to Joe’s business.

“All our trialists in Gosforth are seeing speeds of around 300Mbps as we expected and receiving a good service capable of supporting their broadband needs well into the future.”

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