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Convinced by the high growth potential of the UK’s single office, home office (SoHo) sector – encompassing home-based businesses and startups to more established firms with a single site – BT has created a new unit to focus on the digital and connectivity needs of such operations.
Citing UK Office for National Statistics data on business population and its own research, BT says its new unit – to launch officially on 1 July 2021 – will serve an estimated 5.7 million UK private sector companies which are micro-businesses with up to nine employees, either small by design or just starting up.
BT’s latest research also found that three-quarters of the UK’s small firms are confident in the success of their business as lockdown restrictions lift. And with about 800,000 new UK businesses set up during the pandemic – a year-on-year rise of 40% – the rise of digital shopkeepers and freelancers mean that more and more are running their business from home.
In delivering business-grade connections which it says offer value for money and a premium customer service experience, BT will launch a new suite of services and apps to help these small and fledgling firms grow by building stronger digital foundations. These new services include stronger cyber security measures, free digital skills training and new digital advertising tools.
The package also includes what BT calls the UK’s first “unbreakable” Wi-Fi for micro-businesses, which delivers guaranteed coverage across the workplace, full-fibre speeds of up to 900Mbps and free tech expert support, all intended to help firms rebuild and get set for growth.
After the introduction of its converged Halo for business broadband bundles in 2020, BT has revamped the offering to bring full-fibre broadband with speeds of up to 900Mps, tripling the speeds of its existing full-fibre product. The package also includes BT’s Hybrid Connect device which switches to EE’s 4G mobile network if there’s a problem with the fixed line, to deliver uninterrupted business connectivity.
BT claims to be the only business broadband provider that offers micro-businesses a “seamless” Wi-Fi network across the workplace, eliminating blackspots to deliver guaranteed Wi-Fi coverage. The option of a digital phone line also allows businesses to make and receive calls on their office number from their smartphone when on the move, through an app. BT says its Digital Phone Line also future-proofs businesses ahead of the analogue phone network being withdrawn in 2025.
Aiming to turbo-charge the growth of UK home-based and single-site businesses, BT is also trialling new online tools to make it easier for them to run their own digital advertising campaigns. BT research shows that while 64% of small businesses think digital marketing is vital to their survival and growth, almost 60% need more support with digital marketing skills.
“By setting up this new unit, we’re investing in the future of the UK’s smallest firms and startups, which are the lifeblood of the UK economy,” said Chris Sims, managing director of BT’s new SoHo unit. “I’m really proud to be leading this new unit at a time when their success has never been more important in securing our country’s future as we rebuild after the toughest economic crisis in a generation.
“Every big business starts small, and we want to help them thrive by delivering flawless connectivity, coverage and customer service – so that their broadband never lets them down. Building on the purpose of our Skills for Tomorrow programme – which has delivered free digital skills training to almost 300,000 small business employees – we’ll also be launching a suite of new services and apps to move the UK’s smallest firms into the digital fast lane.”
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