BT CEO sets out ultrafast broadband vision

BT CEO Gavin Patterson today set out the company’s ambition to transform the UK broadband landscape from superfast to ultrafast.

He revealed that BT plans to deliver much faster broadband for homes and small businesses via a widespread deployment of “G.fast”. This is an innovative technology that BT will test in two pilot locations starting this Summer.

G.fast will help BT deliver ultrafast speeds of up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade. Deployment will start in 2016/17, subject to the pilots being successful.

Early tests show G.fast is capable of delivering a range of speeds depending on how close the technology is to a customer’s premises. BT expects to offer initial speeds of a few hundred megabits per second to millions of homes and businesses by 2020. Speeds will then increase to around 500Mbps as further industry standards are secured and new kit is developed.

“BT is a world leader when it comes to fibre innovation and we are excited about the next stage in our story,” Patterson said today. “We believe G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds and we are prepared to upgrade large parts of our network should the pilots prove successful. That upgrade will depend however on there continuing to be a stable regulatory environment that supports investment.

“The UK is ahead of its major European neighbours when it comes to broadband and we need to stay ahead as customer demands evolve. G.fast will allow us to do that by building on the investment we have made in fibre to date. It will transform the UK broadband landscape from superfast to ultrafast in the quickest possible timeframe.”

The two pilots will start this Summer in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle. Around 4,000 homes and businesses will be able to participate in the pilots which will explore what speeds can be delivered using G.fast at scale.

The pilots will build on recent tests at BT’s world renowned innovation centre at Adastral Park, Suffolk. These have shown that G.fast has the potential to deliver significant speed increases from existing and new fibre street cabinets as well as from other points closer to the customer. This is an important development as it means the technology can be deployed in a more efficient and rapid manner than previously thought.

BT is likely to deploy G.fast from various points in the network, with the pilots allowing it to assess various roll out options. It is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband, of up to 1Gbps.

BT is currently expanding the reach of its fibre network by working with the public sector across the UK. Its network already passes almost 22 million premises – around three quarters of the UK – and is open to all communications providers on an equal basis. Its expansion will help the UK to boast 95 per cent coverage for fibre broadband within the next few years.

The UK is already ahead of Germany, France, Italy and Spain when it comes to superfast broadband coverage and take-up 1 , and BT’s plans will ensure the UK stays ahead and joins the ranks of world leaders such as Japan and South Korea.

BCC Annual Conference: Chuka Umunna and Vince Cable added to a stellar line-up of speakers

  •  BCC Annual Conference: 10th February 2015 QEII Conference Centre, London
  • Other speakers include senior cabinet ministers, Ed Balls, William Hague and Sir Clive Woodward OBE
  • To register for a free press pass please contact the press team on 020 7654 5813 / 5817 or register via the website.

Chuka Umunna MP and Vince Cable MP will join a host of senior politicians and business leaders at the upcoming British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference to debate a true ‘Business Plan for Britain’. Just three months before the general election, the conference will feature speakers at the heart of the business growth agenda, and from across the political spectrum.

Speakers and panellists will focus on addressing four business-critical themes – developing the talents of the next generation, growing UK exports, devolution to all regions of the UK and Britain’s position in the world. The conference, sponsored by Lloyds Bank, BT Business, DHL Express, Heathrow Airport and AXA PPP healthcare, will also bring together more than 800 businesspeople from a range of industries, and from across the UK.

Speakers include:

  • Senior cabinet ministers
  • Ed Balls MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Chuka Umunna MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • William Hague MP, First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons
  • John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland
  • António Horta‐Osório, Group Chief Executive, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Margaret Mountford, Chair, The Bright Ideas Trust and former judge on BCC’s The Apprentice
  • Angus Thirwell, CEO and Founder, Hotel Chocolat
  • Sir Clive Woodward OBE, Rugby World Cup Winning Head Coach
  • John Longworth, BCC Director General

Tickets are available by visiting the Annual Conference website: http://www.bccconference.co.uk/

Commenting ahead of the Annual Conference, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“We’re very pleased to add Chuka Umunna and Vince Cable to an already impressive line-up of speakers at our conference. As this years’ general election is set to be the most unpredictable vote in decades, our Annual Conference offers senior politicians the opportunity to clearly set out how they will deliver a more confident and more enterprising Britain. By setting out a true ‘Business Plan for Britain’, the political parties can instil confidence among British businesses across the country, so they can focus on delivering long –term growth and prosperity for the UK.”

BCC: Retail sales up, but UK too reliant on consumer spending

  • Retail sales volumes in December 2014, up 0.4% on the month and 4.3% on the year.
  • Average store prices fell by 2.2% in December 2014 compared with December 2013, the largest fall since June 2002.

Commenting on the latest retail sales figures for December 2014 published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“Although retail sales slowed down in December, the long-term trends show continued expansion with annual growth in sales volumes in excess of 4%. While it is positive that the retail sector is performing well, the UK economy still relies too heavily on consumer spending, and the contribution of exports and investment remain too low.

“The further declines in store prices, which largely reflect falling petrol prices, reinforce the likelihood that consumer prices will stay below 1% over the next few months. Our view that interest rates will have to stay at their current low level at least until the first half of 2016 is now widely accepted. But low interest rates are not enough – we must focus on boosting exports and investment if we are to drive forward economic recovery.”

JCT600 appoints Peugeot local business specialist for fleet division

Victoria HeatonIndependently owned Yorkshire-based motor group JCT600 has appointed Victoria Heaton as Peugeot local business specialist for its fleet operation in West Yorkshire.

Victoria started her career at Benfield Ford in Guiseley as a trainee retail sales executive and also worked as a teaching assistant at a private school for 17 years.

In her new role, Victoria will be based at JCT600’s Peugeot dealership in Bradford.  She will target businesses which currently have fleets of up to 50 vehicles and are based in the Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield areas with Peugeot vehicles.

“The position is a new and exciting opportunity for me to get back into the motor trade which is where I want to be as I love cars and helping customers gives me a real buzz,” said Victoria.  “JCT600 is a fantastic company which despite growing into one of the largest motor retailers in the region has retained its family values.  I’m really looking forward to being part of the JCT600 team and to the challenges ahead.”

New export team appointment at Chamber International

linda moiExport services business, Chamber International, has boosted its specialist team with the appointment of Lydia Moi (pictured) as international trade administrator.

Lydia Moi’s export experience includes working in export development for a major Yorkshire cleaning products manufacturer and being part of the global export team for kitchen sinks manufacturer, Astracast, Bradford, a division of Jacuzzi.

Her appointment sees her return to West Yorkshire after five years in Sardinia as sales and purchasing coordinator for an Italian company importing solar panels and related products manufactured worldwide, but largely from Scandinavia, Germany and China, for sale throughout Italy.

Chamber International assists chambers of commerce with a wide range of specialist international trade services and is also supporting Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) by delivering its We Are International export network, which is part of a campaign to bring an extra £1.6bn to ten local authority areas and create thousands of new jobs by 2018.

Award winning telecoms firm invests in Apprentices

talk straight 2AWARD winning Ilkley telecoms firm, Talk Straight, has invested in five apprentices to drive forward its growth plans.

The Yorkshire company, which won the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) Best Business Use of The Cloud for it’s School Broadband brand, has appointed the five to support its education and SME offer.

Talk Straight, which is an approved Superconnected Cities Broadband Provider, has appointed three Technical Support apprentices and one each in Service Delivery and Accounts.

The investment is not the first time the Ilkley company has turned to local schools and colleges as it expands.  Operations Manager, Sara Arrowsmith, explained:  “Talk Straight has had a positive experience of employing apprenticeships.

“An apprentice is a blank canvas, soaking up information relevant to our highly demanding sector like a sponge.  Previous apprentices have progressed quickly and become fully active and valued members of the team within months of their appointment; meaning they enjoy the same benefits as their colleagues sooner.

“Apprentices have energy and enthusiasm and they are incredibly IT literate; quick to learn new skills and implement them in the work place.  They are skilled at navigating software, which for a telecoms provider such as Talk Straight is vital.

“We operate a structured training programme in conjunction with the local college, which has enabled us to recruit high quality, local candidates who want to learn.  It is a benefit for the business and the apprentice,” she added.

Carole Mawson, of the technical support team, is in no doubt about the benefits of an apprentice: “Technical support demands a high level of customer interaction – recruiting staff with outstanding customer service skills is essential in order to provide a highly effective and professional service to our customers. We have experienced difficulties in the past when trying to recruit candidates with the required balance of technical and customer service skills. We have found with the apprentices that they have a real passion for IT along with strong interpersonal and communication skills. They bring a flexible approach and are very committed to the scheme.

Whilst working with us and progressing through a training programme, they benefit from experience in a corporate environment, learn first-hand the importance of good customer service and gain hands on experience in a front line technical services team,” she said.

Tim Sedgwick, Financial Director, said: “Talk Straight has always had a commitment to invest in the future and give young people an opportunity.  Our whole workforce is relatively young and we as a company have benefitted from that.

“Having an apprenticeships scheme creates an environment of learning and achievement where other colleagues see them do well and aspire to emulate them.  Many have since asked for training opportunities and we have been able to offer that,” he added.

“Talk Straight is also keen to offer our apprentices quick career progression so that we promote them as soon as they are ready.  They all join us on more attractive terms than the minimum under the National Apprenticeship Scheme, but within months they all enjoy even more generous rewards.”

Oliver Hudson, George Harden and Scott Pickard work in technical support, Sam Simmonite works in service delivery while Jack Leach works in the accounting team.

Caption:  From left to right, they are: Oliver Hudson, Scott Pickard, Sam Simmonite, Jack Leach and George Harden.

Judges announced for the Barclays Yorkshire Women in Business Awards

Lucy Thornycroft profileBarclays today announces the judging panel for their inaugural Celebrating Women in Business Awards launched last week.

Launched by Lee Collinson, Barclays Corporate Managing Director for Yorkshire and the North East, the awards are aimed at senior business women operating in mid to large companies in any sector across Yorkshire.

The judges will be looking for women who have made a real difference in business over the past twelve months and the panel includes Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Lucy Thornycroft (pictured) Yorkshire Regional Director, CBI and Garry Wilson, Managing Partner, Endless LLP.

Entrants can self-nominate or be nominated by a work colleague, customer, supplier or other associate and the application closing date is Monday 9th February.

Award categories include: Women of the Year Large Business (turnover over £40million); Women of the Year Medium Business (turnover over £10million); Rising Star (Under 35 years of age) and Outstanding Contribution to Diversity to be awarded to the project, campaign, company or individual that has excelled in this field over the past twelve months.

Lee Collinson, Barclays Corporate Managing Director for Yorkshire and the North East said; “Women from all sectors across Yorkshire are securing key roles in larger companies and we want to recognise exceptional achievements for the contribution they are making. We are seeking entries from women at director level in any sector or industry and this is a fantastic opportunity to bring together business ladies from across the region to share knowledge and ideas, helping to grow the Yorkshire economy.

The awards ceremony will take place at an exclusive awards lunch on Thursday 5th March at Bowcliffe Hall, Bramham, Wetherby, in the newly opened Blackburn Wing with guest speaker Lindsey Rix, Chief Operating Officer at Aviva UK GI as key note speaker.

Please contact pamela.delaney@barclays.com for more information or how to enter the awards.

Yorkshire construction sector shows signs of rallying

William BallmannAfter a tough few years for the construction industry, there are signs that in Yorkshire and the Humber, the sector may finally be starting to recover.  According to the latest research by R3, the insolvency trade body, construction is performing better in the region than in many other parts of the UK.

In January, Yorkshire and the Humber had the third lowest level of construction firms with a higher than normal risk of insolvency with just 24.3% (4,219 firms) in this position compared with a national figure of 26%.  While the percentage of construction firms in the region at higher than normal risk saw a slight rise of 1% since last month, in the previous two months it experienced slight falls of around 0.3%.

Yorkshire and the Humber was also among the top performing regions in the manufacturing sector with only 17.4% of businesses at higher than normal risk compared with the national figure of 20%.  The hotel sector in the region also experienced a continuing decrease in businesses at risk, falling by 2.7% to 16.4% compared with 18.5% across the UK.

R3 uses research compiled from Bureau van Dijk’s ‘Fame’ database of company information to track the number of businesses in key regional  sectors that have a heightened risk of entering insolvency in the next year.

“The construction industry was amongst those hardest hit by the recession and has proved slow to recover,” comments William Ballmann, chair of R3 in Yorkshire and partner at Gateley LLP.  “While it is too early to talk of a sustained improvement, any positive signs are encouraging.  As one of the prime drivers for economic recovery, it is good to see that construction in our region is performing relatively well compared with many other parts of the UK.”

He continues: “Other sectors in Yorkshire, particularly manufacturing and hotels, are continuing to put in a strong performance and it is hoped that the recovery will prove less patchy as we build on last year’s economic growth.”

Photo shows: William Ballmann

Cycling legends launch Yorkshire Bank bike libraries

l-r Gary Verity Chief Executive WTY  Bob Howden President British Cycli    (2) smThe country’s first ever network of bike libraries is being officially launched in Yorkshire.

Legendary Tour de France five-time winner Bernard Hinault was joined by Yorkshire Tour legend Brian Robinson, the first Brit to win a stage of the Tour de France, and Leeds pro cyclist and Commonwealth medallist Scott Thwaites to officially set the new Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries’ wheels in motion today. (December 12).

Following the county’s hugely successful hosting of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 in July, people across Yorkshire are now being asked to donate their old or unwanted bikes at one of many donation stations across the county.

The New Year will see a second stage of the project get underway when community and not-for-profit groups will be able to bid for funding to run bike libraries, which will see donated bikes fixed and ready for people to borrow. The hope is that everyone, regardless of their circumstances will have access to a bike, particularly children.

Yorkshire Bank has teamed up with Welcome to Yorkshire to support the Cycle Yorkshire initiative to turn the ambitious and ground-breaking scheme into a reality. The three-year deal follows on from the hosting of what has been described as the grandest of all Grand Départs of the Tour de France and epitomises Yorkshire Bank’s ‘We care about here’ ethos.

Helen Page, Yorkshire Bank Customer Experience & Marketing Director, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Cycle Yorkshire to launch the new Bike Libraries initiative. At Yorkshire Bank we’re committed to supporting the local community and we hope, through this wonderful scheme, more people will be able to enjoy the benefits of cycling.”

Bernard Hinault said: “The Tour in Yorkshire was incredible. I have never seen so many people out supporting the riders and it shows the passion for cycling here. That’s why this project is so important, as it can give our next generation the chance to experience cycling. I’d encourage anyone who can help to do so.”

Scott Thwaites, who rides for one of the top cycling teams, Netapp-Endura, said: “I think people always remember their first bike or the first time they hopped on a saddle. For many it’s the start of lifelong enjoyment but not everyone’s fortunate enough to have access to a bike – hopefully this project will change that.”

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who came up with the idea said: “I’m delighted that Yorkshire Bank shares our passion for helping everyone in Yorkshire to have access to a bike. They’re turning this dream into a reality and we need the public to help us do the same by donating bikes that perhaps have been sat in a garage gathering dust.”

The repaired and renovated bikes will be available for people of all ages to borrow free of charge and by next year there will be Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries across Yorkshire. Information on where they will be and when they will be open will be on www.cycle.yorkshire.com/bikelibraries.

*The first wave of donation stations are at:
Bike Rescue Project – York
Get Cycling -York
York Cycleworks – York
Pedallers Arms – Leeds
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm -Leeds
Cycle re Cycle – Bradford
M C Foundation – Bradford
Recycle Bikes – Sheffield
cycle:recycle – Hebden Bridge
Reverse The Cycle  – Pontefract
Barnardos Bikes – Keighley
The Bikery – Bradford

BCC Annual Conference: Senior politicians and business leaders set for ‘Business Plan for Britain’ pre-election debate

  • BCC Annual Conference: 10th February 2015 QEII Conference Centre, London
  • Speaker line-up including senior cabinet ministers, Ed Balls, William Hague and Sir Clive Woodward OBE
  • To register for a free press pass please contact the press team on 020 7654 5813 / 5817 or register via the website.

Just three months before the general election, the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference will bring together senior politicians and business leaders to debate a true ‘Business Plan for Britain’. The conference, sponsored by Lloyds Bank, BT Business, DHL Express, Heathrow Airport and AXA PPP healthcare, will feature speakers at the heart of the business growth agenda, and from across the political spectrum.

On Tuesday 10th February, BCC Director General John Longworth will be joined by senior cabinet ministers and a range of high-profile politicians, business leaders and commentators to examine how Britain’s next government can shape a pro-enterprise, pro-growth landscape for business. Discussions will centre on the critical issues of developing the talents of the next generation, growing UK exports, devolution to all regions of the UK and the Britain’s on-going relationship with the EU.

Speakers include:

  • Senior cabinet ministers
  • Ed Balls MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • William Hague MP, First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons
  • John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland
  • Sir Clive Woodward OBE, Rugby World Cup Winning Head Coach
  • Margaret Mountford, Chair, The Bright Ideas Trust
  • Angus Thirwell, CEO and Founder, Hotel Chocolate
  • Fraser Doherty MBE, Founder of SuperJam
  • Linda Yueh, BCC’s Chief Business Correspondent
  • Martin Wolf CBE, Financial Times
  • John Longworth, BCC Director General

Tickets are available by visiting the Annual Conference website: http://www.bccconference.co.uk/

Commenting ahead of the Annual Conference, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“This years’ general election is set to be the most unpredictable vote in decades. Our Annual Conference – set in the crucial run up to the polls – offers senior politicians the opportunity to clearly set out how they will deliver a more confident and more enterprising Britain. By setting out a true ‘Business Plan for Britain’, the political parties can instil confidence among British businesses across the country, so they can focus on delivering long –term growth and prosperity for the UK.”