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Government praise for council's 'enterprising' business broadband partnership

Thursday, January 28th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

A county council that has worked with the private sector to get better connectivity for its business parks has welcomed government praise for its approach.

Northamptonshire County Council invited internet service providers to invest in connecting communities and business parks as part of a strategy to extend broadband coverage without using public funding.

The council’s efforts to improve connectivity for its business parks followed concerns raised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which dubbed some ‘Jurassic Parks’ with speeds on a par with dial-up connections.

A strategy published by the council in 2013 highlighted areas with some of the worst connections in the county and invited private companies to invest in getting them connected.

The first provider to invest was Coventry-based WarwickNet, which in the last 18 months has connected Corby Gate Business Park, Weldon North Industrial Estate, Willowbrook East Industrial Estate, Weldon South Industrial Estate and Corby Business Centre.

The company is now also connecting Kettering Venture Park and Telford Way Industrial Estate.

Sarah Naylor, Northamptonshire County Council’s programme overview manager for broadband, said: “This initiative to get telecoms providers to invest commercially in the county is helping us to achieve our Superfast Northamptonshire ambition without the need for public funding – getting businesses connected is a key priority for us.

“We are delighted that the approach has attracted companies such as WarwickNet because they have a strong reputation and a desire to expand into new areas and markets, which is good for them and good for businesses in Northamptonshire.

“We are also pleased that the approach has been welcomed by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.”

'Enterprising approach'

The Department for Culture Media & Sport, responsible for the government’s superfast broadband rollout, has praised Northamptonshire County Council’s approach to encouraging private sector investment.

In a letter, ministerial support advisor Syed Ali said: “We are always delighted to hear of successful private public partnerships and wish Sarah and her team all the best for the future.”

WarwickNet CEO Ben King said: “It is great to see Northamptonshire County Council gaining national recognition for its enterprising approach to inward investment.

“Consequently, Northamptonshire is rapidly becoming one of our most connected counties in the UK and providing superfast broadband to these additional sites means that even more businesses can benefit from our services.

“We’re offering all sites a range of business-grade broadband and high-capacity leased lines, along with voice and online backup capabilities and can provide tailored packages to suit every organisation.”

Pictured are WarwickNet CEO Ben King, Sarah Naylor of Northamptonshire County Council and Andrew Smeaton, manager of Corby Gate Business Park

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