Driving digital connectivity in Worcestershire, new Digital Board announced

Worcester City from River

The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has now confirmed the appointment of a new Digital Board.

This new board take on the job of strengthening the county’s progress with digital connectivity to ensure that businesses and residents are able to take full advantage of critical services.

Worcestershire is seeing large investment to continue the county’s progress with improving the speeds and availability of digital connectivity. The most recent example of this is with EE, part of BT Group, announcing the expansion of its 5G network to provide coverage for businesses and residents in Worcester.

Another announcement was from City-Fibre which also confirmed that Worcester would be one of the areas to benefit from the expansion of their full fibre rollout. This along with the EE programme is enabling more businesses and residents to be able to access fast and stable internet speeds, leading to benefits in productivity.

Worcester-based provider of rural connectivity services, Airband, has also been helping to drive forward the digital agenda with the news last year that it has been able to fund growth in its team and operations to help it deliver Fibre to the Premises (“FTTP”). The news was welcomed to also help further digitally connect many of the county’s residents and businesses as well opening opportunities to create new jobs and enable training opportunities for digital skills courses.

Further investment is also being seen across the county with full fibre plans also being rolled out in Droitwich and Stourport, alongside this Openreach are also accelerating their superfast broadband rollouts in Evesham, Malvern and Bromsgrove.

Worcestershire has also been at the forefront of 5G technology, running an initial testbed to research the benefits that 5G technology could provide to manufacturing businesses. The testbed trial found that manufacturing businesses could implement 5G within their own factories and saw productivity benefits. Once you expand these benefits out across the whole sector, it would be equivalent to £2.6 billion.

Building on the success of this research, the 5G testbed is now offering businesses the chance to test their own products or services with 5G. Those interested in exploring the potentials of 5G within their business should contact the team.

Mark Stansfeld, Chair of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “2020 has demonstrated the critical need for digital connectivity for both businesses and residents and is a key component of driving greater business productivity. The County has seen tremendous investment over the past few years and the recent  confirmation of Worcestershire as part of ‘project gigabit’ is great news, but there is still much to do to ensure we are fully connected County to the benefit of all.”

Speaking on the recent 5G expansion, Jane Wood, BT Group Nations and Regions Director, said: “We’re really pleased to extend the EE 5G network to Worcester, bringing faster speeds and more reliable connectivity to more people in the region.

“We know that demands for data from consumers and businesses are continuing to increase, so the wider availability of 5G will not only allow people to stream music and videos more quickly, but it will also help local companies grow their business and increase productivity.

“The rollout in Worcester follows the establishment of a private 5G network for the Worcester Bosch factory and Malvern Science Park last year. BT was appointed the lead technology partner for the Worcestershire 5G Testbed and, through this collaboration, we have enabled Worcester Bosch to accelerate smart manufacturing across its factory through 5G, IoT, edge computing and autonomous robots.”