In June this year, Jude McCann, chief executive of charity Rural Support, called on the government to honour its pledge to provide rural businesses and homes with the same standard of broadband access as their urban counterparts.
“Rural communities rely heavily on small businesses and the self-employed,” Dr McCann said. “In the 21st century, reliable access to the internet is an essential component for the running of a successful business.”
Catch IT is working with rural enterprises to help them achieve the access they need, despite the lack of government support on digital issues.
By installing dedicated fiber connectivity via leased line connections of up to 100mbps, Catch IT enables non-urban businesses, industrial estates and business parks to access high speed internet and IT services.
Evegate Business Park in Kent
“Many rural business parks, for example, are quite a distance from the nearest BT exchange and the further away you are, the less connectivity and speed will be available,” said Gavin Pereira, managed services director at Catch IT. “That’s the main problem faced by remotely located businesses – BT and other service providers don’t deploy dedicated fiber out to these areas because they’re focusing on the larger commercial towns and more compact business areas and the ROI will not be commercially viable. But internet access is a vital modern day commodity, just like gas, water or electricity and a poor service is a hindrance to business.”
The capital expenditure involved in installing IT infrastructure can be prohibitive for small businesses and start-ups, which is why Catch IT has created a model that makes high speed fiber connectivity accessible for all.
“Our proposition is that we take on the Capex cost ourselves and we don’t pass that cost on to business park owners,” Gavin explained. “We then offer access directly to the individual tenants, who can enter into rolling monthly contracts with no long-term commitments. This flexibility makes it perfect for small businesses and start-ups and provides dedicated fiber connectivity at a cost that is viable.”
Evegate Business Park, near Ashford in Kent, has been among the first to take advantage of Catch IT’s innovative solution. Located in an attractive rural setting, the park hosts a wide range of local businesses, from hair and beauty salons to professional services, artisans and even a micro pub.
“These days, lifestyles have changed and people don’t necessarily want to commute to large cities; they want to work from home or in the area in which they live,” Gavin said. “It’s only right that they should have the IT support required to do that. Having this level of access gives landlords and business park owners a great USP to offer local companies. At Evegate Business Park, there is now a waiting list of potential tenants who want to move in, because they know the site is so well-equipped.”
Using dedicated fiber connectivity via Catch IT’s established infrastructure can also save businesses money on hardware and licensing costs. The company has dedicated Tier 3 data centres in London, providing a complete private cloud-based hosted service. This means rural companies don’t need to buy servers, upgrade their equipment, pay for their own software licences or use different providers for online support. Catch IT can provide all essential IT services via their fiber connectivity lines and back into their private hosted infrastructure platform, which is underpinned and supported by their 24/7 IT Helpdesk.
“Essentially, all businesses need is a low specification laptop and we can just plug them in to our infrastructure,” Gavin said. “It’s essentially a ‘plug and play’ service for small and start-up businesses. They can even run other services, such as VOIP telephone services, through the fiber connectivity, reducing their costs even further. My background is in the City and I can say that we’re offering exactly the same IT environment as you would find there. We are providing rural enterprises with the same opportunities as those available to urban businesses.”