Case Study: Sally Brazier from CEOstra

Superfast Essex spoke to Sally Brazier, Director of CEOstra (www.ceostra.com), about how her working life has improved since Essex County Council’s broadband improvement programme worked alongside ultrafast broadband network operator, Gigaclear, to make full fibre broadband available in the Epping Forest District area as part of the Rural Challenge Project. Sally’s property is one of 4,000 homes and businesses in Epping being upgraded as part of the RCP, and one of 106,000 homes and businesses that the Superfast Essex programme has enabled with access to superfast broadband speeds overall across the county.

CEOstra helps established businesses to develop and grow and is now able to use its increased broadband speeds to benefit multiple other businesses, as the time Sally previously spent waiting for her slow broadband connection can now be better spent helping her clients, passing on the benefits of faster broadband to even more businesses.

Superfast Essex: What were your broadband speeds like before and how did that impact your work?

Sally Brazier: The broadband was terrible. It was really slow and took a long time to do anything online. It was sometimes so bad that if you went to a website to find information and there was a video on the home page, you could never get to the page you were looking for because of the video trying to load! It was impossible to do certain things and very difficult to do others! My colleague really struggled to even do the online banking. Having superfast broadband now saves time and irritation when doing anything online.

SfE: Has it changed the way you work now?

SB: Everything is quicker and easier. Online research is that much easier because you can find and look at things. Previously, not being able to get a website to load meant we couldn’t do that. When we’re looking at clients, we’re looking at background information and trying to understand their market and what competitors are doing, so now we’re much better equipped to do the research we need to do.

SfE: Do you use cloud software or video conferencing?

SB: Yes, I can do video conferencing now. Our poor connectivity made us wary of using the cloud in case of accessibility issues previously, so we’ve never had it. One of the great things about Gigaclear is having Vonage (www.vonage.co.uk), the phone provider with it. This has helped resolve the frustration we have with rural mobile phone access. Mobile connectivity is still an issue but what I really like about Vonage is if somebody leaves me a message, it delivers an email with a transcription and a .wav file to my email, so anywhere in the world where I pick up email; I can pick up my phone messages. It came along with moving to Gigaclear. It saves money but this is also an unexpected but useful feature.

SfE: Since getting fibre, do you feel more confident about the future of your business?

SB: I can’t say it’s made a huge difference to driving company growth because that comes differently for us, but it makes us on a par with our customers and clients now. Previously you would seem slightly old fashioned and really not up to date with technology. It’s important that we are seen as being as technologically capable as our clients are, as certainly we are knowledge-wise.

If you’re a business or resident struggling with your broadband speeds, like Sally was, check if you’re in plans to be upgraded to superfast speeds using the Superfast Essex rollout map: www.superfastessex.org/maps.

If your property is not yet in the programme’s plans but is eligible for future investment, you can register your demand for faster broadband and sign up to receive programme updates at www.superfastessex.org/registerdemand.