Closure of the Digital Region

Tuesday July 15, 2014

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Danni Hewson for BBC Look North on the back of a report on Business Broadband by the FSB.

We haven’t commented until now on the closure of the digital region but we were one of the early adopters and have benefited greatly by the quality of the connection offered by ASK 4 over our Digital Region connection.

There is a trend for more and more software systems to be provided online and this trend has major benefits for the companies that can take advantage of these new online services.

We also care about the provision of fast internet connections across the country because we develop software systems that are delivered over the internet and as such we want everyone to have the best connection possible, as that means we can offer them better services.

We have also benefited from utilising other companies on-line services and our connection has been crucial to allowing us to take advantage of these services. Among the services we use are:

Voipfone – Online telephony provider

Visual Studio Online – Software development tools

Xero – Online bookkeeping

Our biggest fear in losing our connection is related to our phone system which runs over the internet. We have tried to run our VOIP phones over an ADSL connection before and found that the connection quality to our offices was not adequate to run the system satisfactorily.

With that in mind we could just order some static phone lines in to the business and run our phone lines over them. This is a possibility but it completely misses the point. We like being able to run our flexible telecoms. The fact I can just plug an IP phone in at home and have my extension there is great. The fact that I could be in another country and do the same is even better.

We are also trying to move other systems that we still manage over to other suppliers who specialise on running these systems. We have recently moved our mail from our internally hosted Exchange Server to Office 365 and this has saved us a ton of time in managing such a complex system and has allowed us to get rid of some of the dedicated hardware we have on site for the purpose.

Coming back to where we started the trend is for more systems to be provided online and this is a good thing because it allows the creators of these complex systems to manage them and run them throughout their entire life cycle. This is going to become the norm and if some companies don’t have access to these services they are clearly at a competitive disadvantage.

The failure of the Digital Region is a great shame, it has definitely caused us some problems at Inflecto. We don’t really want to comment on what went wrong, but the vision for universally fast Internet access across the whole region was undoubtedly the right one.

Whilst we are happy to find a solution, we are very unhappy that there is nothing that lies between an extremely unreliable ADSL connection and a leased line for our area and much of central Sheffield. This is something that we hope the new Local Enterprise Partnership will be tackling with urgency. 

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Written by Ross

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