Full fibre connectivity is part of our critical infrastructure.
By Drew Ritchie, CEO, Upp
When we first launched Upp just over two years ago, we knew we were going to be bringing full fibre ultra-fast broadband to a population in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk that had been crying out for it for years. More than that ,we wanted the business we were creating to be a force for good. We pledged to create jobs both directly and indirectly and to play a part in the communities that we wished to serve. I am pleased to say that we have been true to our word. Upp has successfully created over 400 new jobs since 2021 and plans to create many more across the region through 2025 and beyond. We have built partnerships with charities, sports clubs and local authorities, offering support and funding, to enable their great work within the community.
As CEO I believe our business has a huge amount to offer. The importance of reliable and dependable connectivity is vital to the region’s future success. This includes job creation, skills enhancement and general health and wellbeing. The region has been held back by poor broadband speeds in the past and Upp's committed to remedying that.
As part of our community outreach, I regularly attend meetings in the underserved parts of the Eastern Region that we are connecting and planning to connect to ultra-fast fibre broadband. Recently I was in Oakham Town Hall in Rutland where we held the first of a series of regional public meetings to explain what local people could expect from Upp. I was staggered by the numbers that turned up. On a cold wet evening we attracted over a hundred people to learn about Upp and the benefits it was bringing to the local communities. Business owners, retirees, people with growing families, students and entrepreneurs. They weren’t just there for the free tea and biscuits, all of them were united by one common goal, they were all desperately in need of better broadband. It was the same with the people of Swaffham in Norfolk that I met recently too. In fact, it’s the same everywhere I, and our brilliant staff go, across the Eastern region.
That’s because the social impact of reliable and dependable ultra-fast full fibre broadband enables local communities to thrive. New businesses can be created, inward investment is channelled, and jobs created as a direct result. Full fibre connectivity is part of our critical infrastructure. It should not be seen as a ‘nice to have’ but as essential as water or electricity is to a home and/or business.
Upp, alongside its partners has been making rapid progress in installing full fibre across the region that we set ourselves up to serve, which comprises Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and many of the adjoining counties. There is significant private sector investment being made in full fibre in the UK. If the Eastern Powerhouse is going to realise its vision to drive economic growth and raise productivity across the East of England, the UK should be doing everything possible to ‘crowd-in’ that investment. More investment in ultrafast broadband connectivity is going to be required in the other counties of Suffolk, Essex and Bedfordshire too and every effort should be made to help support that investment.
We are not only providing connectivity but our ‘buy local’ and ‘recruit local’ policy has been a real benefit for our communities. Many of our engineers are ex-forces personnel that we have re-trained and are now fully integrated in a new civilian career. I was recently having coffee with one business owner who is also one of our agency partners in Stamford in Lincolnshire. They were one of the first businesses we engaged with to help with our communications work. In the two years we have been working with them their business has more than doubled in size, partly as a result of their work with us, but also because their connectivity, through Upp broadband, is world class. They were recently required to work on the merger of two multinational companies with leaders located in different countries around the world. With Upp’s ultra-fast broadband, high level virtual meetings meant their Lincolnshire base was never an issue. Upp will continue to be a game changer for many businesses across the region and this will only get bigger as they and the region prospers.
But that will not be the case with other businesses across the region unless we keep pushing for the levels of investment needed, so that everyone can have same access to what we must all see as an essential service.