The South East of England is launching a major campaign to advance wi-fi technology and drive commercial success throughout the region through a more widespread availability of wireless broadband. The Broadband East Sussex Partnership, one of nine sub-regional broadband partnerships in the South East, is the first to complete a network of hotspots that ensures that visitors to and residents of the region will never be more than a ten minute drive or five mile radius of a high speed wireless broadband connection.
At a special launch event for the ‘Hotpots South East’ campaign held on Wednesday 26th July, South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) Area Director Liz McSheehy acclaimed the Partnership as “pioneers” and stated that “the intention is now to replicate this platform across the entire South East region.”
Patricia Vaz, BT’s Regional Director for the South East said: “Wi-fi puts people in control of their working days and enables flexible working. This has huge potential, with organisations embracing flexible working enjoying productivity gains of up to 20% as a result of more satisfied and committed employees, less absenteeism, greater staff retention and all of the cost savings that go along with this. There is also the prospect to cut peak traffic by up to 10% within five years, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and reducing congestion. This could benefit the UK economy to the tune of £1.9 billion by 2010.”
“Wi-fi is the third link in the ‘Golden Triangle”, she continued. “Broadband is increasingly commonplace in the home and in the workplace, but to now have access to high speed internet connections on the move is a magnificent advantage for the businesses and people of East Sussex.”
Broadband East Sussex’s Programme Manager, Cheryl Clemons, said: “High-speed internet access is an increasingly decisive factor when people choose where to spend their leisure time, book a room, have a coffee or hold a business meeting. As a county which does not contain a motorway, and has a dispersed population, broadband technology is a vital ingredient to reinvigorating our rural communities, improving business competitiveness and galvanising the economy of the area. Businesses recognise this and we have had a huge response to our campaign in East Sussex.”
Hotspot is the term for public spaces that are equipped with wireless Internet access. They are cropping up everywhere because demand is high and there is a compelling business argument for hosting a hotspot in all types of organisations. SEEDA aims to complete the entire South East network via all nine broadband partnerships by December 2006.
SEEDA supports the campaign as part of its wider remit to enhance the social and economic development of the region. Head of Programme Delivery, Peter Sinclair commented: “Hosting a hotspot affords a number of business advantages - attracting more customers and encouraging visitors to stay on site for longer. This can lead to increased revenue and profit and enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty. More importantly, this initiative is aligned to key themes in the new Regional Economic Strategy for the South East (RES) where broadband and ICT are identified as pivotal to accelerating business competitiveness, promoting greater innovation and championing smart, sustainable growth.”