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Superfast broadband provides lifeline for new role on home front for ex-army engineer

Press Release   •   Feb 02, 2016 15:45 GMT

Former army officer Rob Goût says superfast broadband has given him the freedom to pursue a new career as a lawyer.

Rob, 36, lives and works on the Albemarle Barracks, near Stamfordham, where he is married to partner Simone, who serves as a military doctor to soldiers on the base.

The nature of army life means the couple, who have a twin girl and boy, have moved three times in four years, making it difficult for Rob to keep the same job. But the arrival of superfast broadband on the camp has given a boost to Rob’s new permanent career as an in-house lawyer working remotely from home.

Rob, who finished serving as a Royal Engineer in 2008, moved to Albemarle with his family in August last year and took up a new job the following month as a lawyer for the Government’s Education Funding Agency – helping to rebuild and refurbish schools around the country.

He said: “The nature of my work means I can work remotely from home, which means that if we have to move again – I can take the job with me. But without the superfast connection I don’t think I would have been able to do this job in the longer term.”

Rob explained how he works on a number of different projects across the country as part of a large virtual team – also spread across the UK. “We have very few face to face meetings so a majority of the project information – documents, plans, files and slides - needs to be shared online. Everyone uploads and downloads documents from professional file sharing sites in ‘the cloud’[1]. We use videoconferencing tools as well as software applications that allow you to share slides and documents in real time during a meeting. However, without a good broadband connection none of it really works.”

After moving to the barracks a year ago, Rob told how he had to endure five months of slow broadband speeds before the base was enabled with superfast fibre broadband as part of the iNorthumberland project.

He said: “Before we had superfast, the speed was never more than about 1Mbps so very slow. With lots of devices on wi-fi all being used at once it would slow to almost nothing. Now we’re getting consistently around 40Mbps which is great. Before, I couldn’t do any online meetings because it would take too long to download the shared document the team was looking at or the broadband would drop out and I’d lose the call. I had started my new job and wanted to make a good impression, but I was really struggling to cope with the poor broadband connection. Without the speed, I don’t think I would have been able to do this job in the longer term, it was that bad. I would have had to work many more hours to try and do the same quantity of work.”

Better broadband has also helped improve Rob’s connectivity in other ways by helping to boost his mobile signal, which had previously been patchy and unreliable. Rob said: “ I just have my mobile number for work, but the mobile signal is very poor where we are, which is quite rural. With superfast I have the bandwidth to use a signal booster over the wi-fi. Now I don’t have to dangle precariously out of an upstairs window to make a call!.”

Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This really does demonstrate the value of superfast broadband to local communities. The broadband programme underpins the growth plans we have for the county – connectivity being a major driver to business growth. It is great to see Albemarle so well connected.”

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, added: “Rob’s experience is a great example of how the availability of high-speed broadband can have a profound impact on people’s lives.

“But it is not just how we work. From how we learn, to how we communicate with friends and family and how we entertain ourselves – high-speed broadand is a critical enabler.

“Getting fibre to rural locations is no easy task, but it’s a very important one. It is equally important for people to understand how they can benefit and take the opportunity to upgrade when the new technology arrives in their community.”

More than 145,000 households and businesses in Northumberland are now able to connect to fibre broadband. In Stamfordham, around 330 households and businesses can now access the new technology.

The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, is being delivered by Northumberland County Council and BT.

BT was awarded the iNorthumberland contract in April 2013 following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. A second phase contract was signed in June which will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million initially invested by Northumberland County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 1

The majority of premises in Northumberland will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the UK via iNorthumberland and the commercial roll-out of fibre by BT’s local network business, Openreach. Openreach’s network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northumberland households and businesses can benefit from highly competitive products and pricing from a range of providers.

For up to date information on available business support and the roll-out visit www.inorthumberlandbusiness.co.uk or www.inorthumberland.org.uk.

ENDS

1The iNorthumberlandproject is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf

Notes to Editors:

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
  • £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
  • £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.
  • Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk


    [1]Cloud computing is defined as a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications