“Fast broadband is not a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity. I run an Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning business with a distributed team across the UK, so connectivity is vital – the Better Broadband programme has effectively made it possible for me to do this.”
“Having a reasonable and reliable internet connection is just as important a utility as water; especially if you have a family. For the community, there are ecological benefits – you can avoid driving or catching the train and reduce the strain on our infrastructure,” says Will Brocklebank.
Will is the founder and Chief Executive of ‘Shepherd,’ which was set-up in 2015. “IoT is about how the machines and buildings of our world send data. Here at ‘Shepherd,’ we stop bad things from happening to buildings & environments by analysing data for early warning signs of problems.”
Since upgrading to superfast fibre broadband, Will’s download speeds have soared to 72Mbps - from around 5Mbps, which is great news for his business that he runs from home, as well as for his family. They are served by the fibre cabinet at the end of Timbers Lane, just 10 feet from his back door.
It is also vital for Will to correspond efficiently and reliably with his eight employees, who are based across the UK. Will explains:
“My team is widely distributed, so there isn’t a central office. Instead, headquarters is at my house in Nuffield, Henley-on-Thames. I need to communicate regularly with my team, so we use an instant messaging system, with integrated conferencing for screen sharing. We also undertake research for sales presentations and manage cloud servers for our machine learning platform. Therefore, it is vital that we can login remotely to our servers to work with the developers to develop the platform, monitor logs and ensure the system is running correctly.
We’ve come a long way in a short time. It was a difficult time as a start-up business. We were working from home with just a laptop and trying to piece together our commercial vision.”
Will’s family is enjoying the benefits of upgrading to superfast fibre broadband too. Mrs Brocklebank is a TV Producer and they have two children. Will describes his household as being, “high consumers with multiple internet uses! My eldest son likes to play ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’ in real time with his friends. There is also homework provided from school, which is often computer based with English & Maths exercises or research projects, especially for History. My wife also needs to keep up-to-date with programmes and regularly uses Netflix.”
Will experienced a seamless transition with his internet service provider and strongly recommends it to other people thinking about opting for an upgrade. He also considers the social and commuting benefits from the upgrade and explains that villages and towns have become dormant as people leave for the day.
“Having access to superfast broadband can empower the community to be productive and keep them functioning; they will use local amenities more, especially when we are in an age of these becoming disparate and bled away. We need to keep them economically productive and broadband is at the heart; without it you cannot stay at home and work.”
Will has spent 15 years developing smart buildings with internet access across the country and is also chairman of the Artificial Intelligence Technology Group at BIFM. In addition, Will has spent 10 years working with a business that designed and installed networking systems, so he already knew a lot about arranging connections. Will has written guides for estate agents to help understand the importance of networking systems for the future. He recalls that, “Buyers would just purchase properties and not consider the network situation beforehand.”
Will became aware of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme and continued to track progress. Having broadband, he explained, became a contributing factor in the purchase of his property in Nuffield.
“The Better Broadband programme has addressed the requirement of Nuffield village. The programme identified that one cabinet didn’t provide coverage to the whole community so a second one was built to ensure good coverage for all premises in the village. When you run a business from home, one of the challenges of our modern operating systems is keeping compatible with cloud services, whether you chose them or not, they are always synchronising or uploading. The days for slow connections are very much over – 5Mbps may have been reasonable back in 2008, but not in today’s world. Technology is literally being choked to death as computers put more strain on it, which is why the BBfO programme is crucial. The Government should raise the standard minimum internet speed to at least 100mpbs to enable more economic growth across the country, so we don’t need to commute. In fact, not encouraging home working increases the strain on our national infrastructure and as Government are clearly not investing to upgrade the roads or rail system we need home workers. Our homes are proliferating with technology and each year we buy more connected devices; we are bristling with technology and many households will have 50+ devices in the next 18 months, which would put even more strain on connectivity. Having fast internet isn’t just about leisure, such as surfing the web and just reading on-line but our day-to-day work, community and welfare - it’s that important.”
To learn more about ‘Shepherd,’ visit: https://shepherd.fm
‘Shepherd’ is currently involved in a number of predictive maintenance technology projects, some of which include care homes across the South of England with heating, so that it doesn’t just turn off; nationwide with medical clinics for legionella control and also landfill sites to ensure contaminated water is pumped away effectively – wherever there is a risk with a piece of machinery that may fail or create an environmental problem, ‘Shepherd’ ensures this will not happen.