UK To Speed Up In Broadband Race

The United Kingdom draws in millions of visitors and tourists each year who come to see everything from Buckingham Palace to the Scottish Highlands; making it one of the busiest and most popular countries in the world. The amount of mobile data usage throughout the major UK cities is over 90 terabytes a day yet London still ranks lower than cities such as Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, New York and Berlin for broadband speed.

In an attempt to boost 4G coverage and mobile broadband speeds Vodafone is seeking to increase the number of antennas in our capital which currently amounts to 2.5 antennas per kilometre. To put that into context, major European cities ahead of us in terms of broadband speed have around 6 or 7 antennas per kilometre.

One person who may be disappointed with these figures is Prime Minister David Cameron who last year promised fast and affordable broadband for all by the year 2020 prioritising it as a basic right on the same level as having access to water and electricity.

General mobile data usage has grown enormously in recent years with the rise of 4G data and major phone companies offering impressive new internet speeds. Though broadband speeds in the UK keep getting faster they still fall short in comparison to a lot of other countries across the world.

The UK has always been a major player on the world stage therefore it is embarrassing for our Capital to have slower broadband speeds than places like Chattanooga and Bucharest. We need London and the rest of the UK to be up there with other big names such as Tokyo, Seoul and Zurich.

Unsurprisingly, Londoners are the UK’s largest consumers of mobile data, according to a statement from Vodafone’s chief technology officer, with data usage the equivalent of 23 million songs being streamed each day. Vodafone is now asking local councils to allow more antennas to be installed on rooftops to create a faster network that will be able to compete with the other major cities around the globe.

Though major cities are currently enjoying fast and affordable internet speeds, the rural parts of the UK are being left behind with nearly half of rural households unable to receive speeds above 10Mbit/s and one in five unable to receive speeds of 5Mbit/s. Obviously rural areas are more sparsely populated than urban areas meaning that coverage suffers as a consequence; outdoor coverage in the city is as high as 99% which drops significantly to 72% in the countryside. Though lagging behind, coverage of fast broadband in rural areas has increased from 22% to 37% from 2014 to 2015.

The chart below from Ofcom’s 2015 Connected Nations Report shows the percentage of premises unable to receive fast download speeds. From looking at the chart it is obvious that rural areas have significantly less access to fast broadband speeds than urban areas.

With this report comes controversy with some calling for the end of BT’s stronghold over the cable networks. Research commissioned by the former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps, backed by a further 121 Member’s of Parliament, blasts BT for ignoring rural communities and criticises the amount of taxpayer money being wasted with little results to show for it adding that, “If Openreach can’t deliver it’s time for the regulator to step in and find another way”. Sarah Lee, from the Countryside Alliance, even went as far as describing the current situation as a “digital apartheid”.

According to the report, residents of rural areas may have to wait up to three years until they can gain access to broadband speeds that the rest of the country currently uses; though it may be a long wait it is still within the time limit set by David Cameron. However, Hubert Da Costa, Vice President at Cradlepoint, explains that, though optimistic, it simply isn’t possible to get a wired network to everyone in the UK particularly in locations with geographical challenges.

He suggests that in order to supply connectivity for all we should be looking at wireless alternatives for locations that simply cannot be reached with wired broadband:

“This isn’t a government or consumer issue, this is simply a fact. Which is why we are seeing businesses setting up 4G Internet connectivity for either their primary networks or for network resiliency. Of course, connectivity is important, and it’s great that the government believes in ‘connectivity for all’ however behind the desire, there has to be a workable solution.”

Of course, though we should welcome Vodafone’s drive for faster internet, it’s important to note that the UK has vastly improved in comparison to previous years. The chart below shows the improvement of superfast broadband coverage throughout the UK from 2014 and 2015 as well as average download speeds.

Strong progress has been made but many are still affected by slow broadband speeds both personally and professionally. Daniel Latto, a business coach from Leeds, often travels around the world for work and found that broadband speeds in the UK are not up to scratch in comparison with other countries:

“I run webinars for my clients and I find I can’t run them in the UK as the broadband speed is around 2MB. I would understand if I lived in the country but Horsforth is a bustling suburb of Leeds.”

Daniel finds that he can now only run webinars from his home in Spain, rather than from his home in Leeds which has affected his business considerably: “My broadband is much faster even in Spain, in a small town near the coast.” Daniel is understandably irritated at the situation and strongly agrees with the research commissioned by Grant Shapps MP regarding the disbandment of BT whom he describes as holding him ransom due to their monopoly of broadband services.

It’s clear that improvements still need to be made for the UK to be able to compete with the likes of China and the USA however the fact is that 83% of the country now has access to superfast broadband coverage, up 8% from 2014, bringing David Cameron’s ‘fast broadband for all by 2020’ pledge closer to a reality.

WhatsApp Boost Security With End-to-End Encryption

WhatsApp, the world’s largest mobile messaging service, has been making a few major changes recently. Among other details, the service is now completely free with rumours of a video calling feature in the pipeline.

For now, WhatsApp may be introducing end-to-end encryption alerts to make conversations more private and secure for customers. WhatsApp already use encryption software by default but this new update, a more secure version of the encryption software, will allow users to actively see when their messages and calls are being encrypted.

With end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp telephone calls and messages are protected by preventing third parties reading any private data. Users will have the option to turn on or off encryption alerts, in the same way you can turn on or off your ‘last seen’ timestamp, meaning that concerned users can choose whether or not to message those who don’t have end-to-end encryption enabled.

Purchased by Facebook in 2015 for $19 billion, WhatsApp have also promised to entirely scrap annual subscription fees for all global users. On top of that, it has also been revealed that they will not be selling any advertising space to third party companies.

Instead, according to a recent official blogpost, WhatsApp are exploring new capacities of communication to improve andexpand upon. This includes messaging local or international companies and organisations instead of calling up a traditional helpline; for example, messaging your bank regarding a transaction or an airline regarding an upcoming flight.

The new encryption updates could come with some controversy with David Cameron threatening to ban apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat for its default encryption software under new counter-terrorism surveillance plans.

Should end-to-end encryption be a given?

Privacy groups are notably outraged at the possibly of the government banning end-to-end encryption arguing that private messaging is part of our human rights. However, it’s important to note that the security services must have a warrant before reading any encrypted messages; the issue Mr Cameron has is that even with a warrant security services struggle to access the data.

Whether end-to-end encryption should be a default feature in all our messaging services is still up for debate, however, with so many messaging platforms available, a lot of us still remain unaware of how secure or unsecure our data is.

Which UK city has the fastest broadband speeds?

 

Last year David Cameron promised fast broadband for every person in the UK by 2020 prioritising fast and affordable broadband as a legal right in the modern world.

Broadband alone is no longer enough to keep up with the pace and amount of usage people now consume. With more people than ever streaming television, online gaming and downloading music and film, superfast broadband is required and has now become the norm with 83% of UK premises using it in 2015, up from 75% in 2014.  

To answer the question, ‘Which UK city has the fastest broadband?’, you first have to break down the question into specifics such as download speed and area coverage. The fastest broadband in the UK at the moment is superfast broadband which offers speeds up to 300Mbps. Therefore, to find out where the fastest broadband in the UK is you need to look at which city has the most coverage of superfast broadband.

In Ofcom’s 2015 Connected Nations Report the UK cities with the fastest broadband speeds in terms of area coverage are listed.

Luton, Belfast and Portsmouth come up top with an average of 97% area coverage of superfast broadband. Brighton, Plymouth and Lincolnshire follow suit with 95% area coverage. On the other end of the spectrum were cities such as Kent, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.   

Surprisingly, a lot of the UK’s major cities, including London, are not at the top of the list for broadband coverage. Phone giant Vodafone blames the lack of broadband coverage in London to the minimal number of antennas around the city, currently around 2.5 antennas per kilometre, which is around a third less than that of other major cities around Europe who have an average of 7 antennas per kilometre.

Mr Cameron has four years left to ensure that every home in the UK has access to affordable superfast broadband. However, Ofcom raise some doubts as to whether his goal is achievable. The independent communications regulator claim that over 2 million city homes and almost 50% of homes in rural areas are still using broadband with speeds of only 10Mbps.

How To Utilise Cross-Channel Communication For High Quality Customer Engagement

Not so long ago, customer communications were limited to a finite number of channels. Fortunately, the rapid growth of hyper-connected devices and platforms has completely revolutionised the face of marketing. Today different means of communication are integrated into the nature of the customer-business relationship

In order to meet the demands of the modern market, businesses need to enable an uninterrupted information flow across the plethora of channels which connect them to their customers. However, statistics show that in practice the majority of companies are failing to do so. According to the Cross-Channel Marketing Report, only 5% of respondents stated that they were fully set up to offer cross-channel marketing activities.

Cross_Channel_Communication
Being present on different channels is not enough – bring them together with a solid strategy.

The communication dynamic between brand and consumer has notably changed with the growth of mobile and cloud technologies. In order to address demands for faster and real-time information companies need to utilise the multitude of communication channels available. However, simply being present where your target audience is doesn’t necessarily make your communication more effective.

There is a key difference between being “present” on these different communication channels and being “engaging” on them. Anybody can keep a social media account alive, it’s a separate challenge to utilise it to communicate with your audience/customer base effectively. This needs to be done with a fine balance of brand message, engaging updates and useful information.

Find the right tools for implementing your cross-channel communication.

You need to utilise the best tools and technologies to ensure you can engage with your customers effectively, without it interrupting your working day. Tools such as hosted VoIP and Hootsuite are both excellent new ways of bringing your communication channels together.

Hootsuite is a site that incorporates every social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram etc) into one place making social media posts and engagements more manageable than ever.

Hosted VoIP combines the internet with traditional phone systems with telephone calls becoming accessible across a range of devices such as mobile phones, desk phones and IP phones, voicemails are sent to your email inbox in the form of sound bites and maintenance costs are reduced by up to 90%. These are just some of the many benefits of switching to a hosted VoIP system.

Optimise your telecoms for all customers.

The evolution of the internet, mobile applications and cloud storage has made it easier for companies to expand internationally. However, one of the most common problems they come across is delivering the same quality of information to all customers across the globe. In order to achieve unanimous quality your telecoms solutions need to include:

● Automatic call distributors
● CRM application
● Call recording systems
● Campaign management systems
● Speech recognition systems

Boost the quality of video conferencing

The quality of conferencing solutions is an important and sometimes forgotten aspect of telecommunications. Choose the best conferencing solutions which deliver a high definition experience, enable interoperability, support mobility and integrate real-time video or audio communication features.

Using personalised SMS in your cross channel communications

SMS has been empowering business communication for many years but is now being overlooked for more engaging online opportunities such as social media. However marketers and businesses are now making a move back to SMS in attempt to create more personal relationships with their customers.

With so many mobile applications these days, receiving a text has almost become a novelty which could explain why 90% people read their SMS in the first 3 minutes of receiving them. Therefore tapping into this unused space could make for an extremely successful communication campaign.

Active presence on digital channels can improve customer loyalty and retention.

Social networks are now a major communication tool for both B2C and B2B businesses. Their major advantage being a boost of visibility and online presence whilst maintaining a human and relatable connection with customers.

Your company website is a critical touch point for both new and existing customers which is why it needs to deliver an excellent user experience. The primary function of the company website is to deliver a message to encourage further interaction and ultimately sales. This is also a great place to present your other communication channels with social media buttons, click to call functionality and interactive contact forms.

Combined with an SEO strategy, such an approach can help to attract thousands of potential new visitors to the site. This is why it is important to consider working with SEO, web design and content marketing experts to come up with the best possible visibility strategy.

New research by a New York based SEO company suggests that: “to ensure engagement across all the desired channels, marketers need to understand their specificities, as well as the types of engagement they could expect.” This means that each company should assess their opportunities and specific needs when it comes to attracting and retaining new consumers.

Today, modern companies are required to work with highly digital and extremely connected consumers and because of this they need to pinpoint the customer communication channels that could bring the most profit. By incorporating and synchronising the right platforms, strategies and technologies, businesses will be able to optimise cross-channel communications to bring maximum results.

Flipping Out: Adele Boosts Retro Phone Market | PMC Telecom

Retro is officially the new black.

Adele_Retro_Comeback

In the days where a new smartphone is released approximately every 4 seconds people are looking back at technology’s humble beginnings with nostalgic fondness.

This revolution has been rocketed by the use of a flip phone in Adele’s music video for ‘Hello’ which was viewed over 50 million times in its first 48 hours of release.

Internet and social media users have enormous influence and power when it comes to viral trends; notable examples include the blue or gold dress debate, the ice bucket challenge and, rather relevantly, Adele’s comeback teaser after a 4 year hiatus.

Being one of the most anticipated musical releases of the decade meant that every detail of Adele’s third album would be immediately shared worldwide with every detail scrutinized.

Indeed people were quick to pick up on the use of a retro flip phone by a multi-millionaire; leaving the internet shaken and baffled.

Adele_Headline

This led to an interview with video Director, Xavier Dolan, in which he explains that he avoids filming with modern cars and phones since they’re a reminder of reality and reduce the piece of art to an advert.

Adele_Director

Such is the influence of Adele (and the internet) that mobile phone giant Samsung is now bringing back the flip phone; with much better features than the original model. Already popular in Korea, the smart-flip-phone is now being brought over to the Western market.

Could the flip phone be a contender for the new ‘it’ phone of 2016?

Adele_flip-phone

Okay, whether Adele did inspire this flip phone rebellion may be up for debate but what’s clear is that people are beginning to appreciate the simpler times and incorporating those aspects into their now fast paced and technology heavy lifestyles.

Retro has always been ‘cool’ but with television shows, retro food, technology and vintage fashion all coming back it looks like we need to start replacing our phones with retro models to keep up with the times.

At PMC we’ve even noticed a rise in the the popularity of our retro phones, so thanks Adele!

Josh Rose – PMC Telecom
@joshzrose

Passwords aren’t enough! Secure your online accounts now.

Passwords just aren’t enough anymore!

We’re told that we should use strong passwords for everything we do online, and more so, we should have different passwords for all our account to stop hackers getting at our precious data.

Security experts recommend we make our passwords as long as possible, adding in capital letters, numbers and special characters to make our passwords harder to guess.

As an example of what is expected, a random password generator that I occasionally use to secure some of my systems here at PMC, throws out the following result: 53e;Lwl5fRmK+jT

To quote the eminent internet word-smith, Kimberly Wilkins  “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

Okay, it’s a given, you need to make your passwords strong, but in the real world, we all need to remember those passwords for our day to day accounts, so most people do use simple-to-remember words or phrases with some extra punctuation or flourishes in there to make them harder to guess.

The main weakness of passwords is that they’re a single layer of protection; someone could easily look over your shoulder as you’re typing a password for example, or perhaps you’ve even been the unwitting victim of a phishing scam. Either way, when someone has your password, they can get into your account.  Worse still, if you’ve used the same password for other online services, then it really doesn’t take a determined hacker much work to find out more about you, which websites you use, who your friends are etc etc. Easy identity theft 101.

So how can we further shore up our online accounts?

Enter two-step-verification

From a personal stand point, I’ve been trying hard to advise friends and family to use two-step verification, but it’s an uphill struggle, it all seems more complicated than it actually is.  It’s really not, and this is part of the reason why I’m writing this blog, so I can say “Look, I actually took time out at work to write this!  It’s really important.  You should know about this.” You’ll all be making this PMC blogger a very happy guy if you look at two-step verification!

You should have this enabled on all of your accounts:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Yahoo
  • Paypal
  • Ebay
    etc, etc

So what is two-step verification and how does it work?

Two step verification is essentially adding a second layer of security on top of your password to protect your accounts. In short, after entering your username & password, before letting you into your account, the website or service in question would then text you a code for you to enter before it let you in. The thought behind this is that IF your password has been compromised, then the hacker, wherever they are in the world, still can’t access your account because they would need your mobile phone to get the verification code for that login.  Verification codes are a one-time only deal, so every time you want to get into your account, you get a new code sent to your phone, and most verification codes expire in a matter of minutes, too, providing that extra level of security for you.

paypal-code

Here’s step-by-step how you would log in to a Google account with two-factor authentication enabled

  1. Enter your username
  2. Enter your password
  3. Google then asks you for your verification code
  4. Instantly you get a text on your phone from Google with a six-digit code you need to enter that lets you into your account
  5. You enter the code and you’re in your account

*It’s worth noting that Google lets you disable the two-step verification code for your home computers so if this is a hassle for you, then you can at least turn this off for your personal device.

In short, this is it.  Simple.

Two-step verification makes sure that anyone trying to log into your account requires the verification code sent to your mobile device.

What if I lose my phone?  

As part of most two-step verification set-ups, you can set-up backup telephone numbers and  email addresses so you’ll never find yourself locked out of your account.  Google even lets you print out a set of single use only verification codes to keep in a safe place as a further backup.

Google explain more here:

There’s also an app for that!

The next step up from using text messages to get your authentication codes is to use an app.  Without getting too technical, what the apps do is generate an encryption key between your device and the service in question that allows them both to generate the same code independently of each other. This means that even if you don’t have mobile service to receive a text message, you can still get your authentication code.

The popular Lifehacker blog has listed the best authentication apps for both iPhone and Android devices here, personally I use the Google authenticator app, it allows me to generate codes for all of my online accounts, Facebook, AWS, Google, etc etc

Google Authenticator App

Google’s Authenticator App with multiple accounts. The blue marker is a timer, counting down the code’s expiry time. Codes are refreshed every 60 seconds.

Further reading

One of the best resources I could find was Google two-factor authentication page, it describes really well what it is and how it works.

You can enable two-factor authentication for your Facebook account, click the link here and find out more, go to “Login Approvals”.  I’ve got it set up in my authenticator app so it all works very well for me.

Find out more on using two step verification for Microsoft services here. Microsoft have their own code generator app for their services.

If you want to enable two-factor authentication for your Paypal account, you can enable it quite easily, but only text messaging is supported at the time of writing this blog.

In summary

Enable two-factor authentication on all of your online accounts now!

 

Top 5 Locations In The UK To Run A Successful Business

Starting or running a successful Business can be one of the most exciting and satisfying experiences in your life. Are you looking to start your own business? Or are you looking to add more businesses to your existing portfolio ?

We list the best 5 places to start a business.

Our findings are based on the following:

  • Sales data
  • Business activity
  • Population
  • Affluency
  • Infrastructure
  • Business Support (Science parks, universities, business centres etc)
  • Availability of commercial premises
  • Average house prices, crime rates & tourism.
  • Government funding

We’ve left London out of this list, as we would have to be divided  into the boroughs as they are vastly different, however we are confident London as a whole would come second in our findings

Without further ado here are the top 5 places in the UK to start a business:

  1. Manchester
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Bristol
  4. Cambridge
  5. Leeds

5th place – Starting a business in Leeds:

leeds

Image Credit: Albert Pego / Shutterstock.com

Leeds is reported to create 4% of the UK’s economic output and 44% of West Yorkshire’s economic output according to the Leeds government website.

Leeds By numbers:

Leeds also has a great labour force, In 2013 it was reported that 36% of the working population had at least NVQ Level 4’s. In addition to this only 10% of Leeds population is of working age without qualifications. This actually makes a lot of sense as Leeds has three good universities all within close proximity to the city centre which produce around 36,000 graduates each year. Leeds.gov.uk stated in 2013, “Leeds has had a very successful decade over this period without a huge rise in employment numbers“

Startups

The number of new start ups is growing too. In 2012 Leeds had 6174 start ups. In 2014 that number had risen to 6778.

2014map

Image credit:startups.co.uk

Leeds actively supports new businesses. They have an EU backed “Business & IP Center” at Leeds library. This was launched in March 2013 and is still going strong. It enables people to have free access to business databases, market research and directories. There are also a wide selection of free, business workshops you can attend.

Funding

Leeds has great funding available for new businesses. The Business Growth Programme grants funding from £10,000 to £50,000 to new businesses which are based in Leeds or if that business is planning to set up in Leeds.

The Growing Places Fund is also available and give businesses a large range of loans. In 2014 they had £6m available to lend to businesses up to £1m. The only restriction is, the business must find 75% of private funding if they are to use the Growing Places Fund.

Quality Of Life

  • £154, 750 average semi detached house price. (June 2015)
  • 21.5mbps: Average broadband speed (October 2015 – Uswitch)
  • 80 Crimes per 1,000 people. (March 2014)

Q&A with Local Leeds Business: Elementary Digital Director Gyles Seward

Q1) Why did you start your business in Leeds?

Elementary Digital – all of the team had begun their working lives in the city and had a deep understanding of the Leeds digital agency community in the area and the county. Furthermore we understood businesses in the Leeds area having worked with companies throughout the area for over 10 years. Finally Leeds has the second biggest digital community outside of London and the city attracts the best digital talent from around the country, this makes it attractive from a resource point of view and business want to work with digital agencies in Leeds, of which Elementary Digital are proud to be one.

Q2) What are three positive things about starting a business in Leeds in your experience?

  • Business Community Support – Leeds has a fantastic support network for start up businesses with funding, coaching and financial guidance to help start-ups not only develop but grow as well.
  • People – a digital hub–  Leeds has a wealth of talent available and as you grow there is a huge resource to tap into
  • Transport links – positioned pretty much in the centre of the country you’re only about 2 hours from London or Edinburgh (by train) and there’s excellent motorway links to pretty much any part of the country, it means business can be done easily on a regional or national level

Q3) Can  you name any negatives  of starting a business here?

  • Stigma – despite the government’s promotion of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, businesses operating outside of London don’t always get the credit they deserve. Leeds has developed a real specialism in the digital sector and has some of the most respected digital marketing agencies in the country (and globally)
  • Investment – whilst Leeds has a big digital community, investment in this business sector has been slow and there’s a lack of quality talent from the local education system, that’s not the fault of the students…
  • Migration – becoming a powerhouse for digital marketing also has it’s problems, in recent years there has been an influx of tech business to the city taking the talent away from independent firms and a migration of skilled people down south.

Q4) If you were to be given the opportunity to start again at a different location – where would you choose?

Elementary Digital can be run anywhere really as we adopt a location agnostic model (remote working), although we do have a head office in Leeds. If we did need to define a location it would be London (although we do have a London office). The reason being is it’s the centre of digital marketing in the UK and to be a successful digital agency you need to be in London.

Q5) Would you recommend Leeds as a great place to start a business?

Without a shadow of a doubt, a great city, brilliant opportunities and not a bad place to be involved in. We very proud of our Leeds roots and we’ve grown year on year since we started, largely supported and working with the wider Leeds business community.

 

4h place – Starting a business in Cambridge

cambridge
Image Credit: Shutterstock | Roberto Lo Savio
Home of the prestigious University Of Cambridge, founded in the 13th Century – A city with masses of talent and great start up support.
The University Of Cambridge is one of the top 2 in the Country, and the top 5 in the world. As you would imagine it dominates startup activity in the city. The University produces extremely high quality graduates and the area has a reputation as a hub of cutting edge technology. For any tech or science start ups who need great facilities, it would be hard to top what Cambridge has to offer.

Cambridge by numbers:

  • Population: 129,000 (Estimated based on 2011 census)
  • 82,212 working age population educated to NVQ level 4 or above (Cambridgeshire insight)
  • £576 average weekly earnings.
  • 45 min from London Kings Cross
  • 2 Universities
  • 32.9 mph High average road speeds & low congestion

Source: www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk

Startups

With the University of Cambridge finding talent for your new startup should certainly be no issue . The quantity  of people in Cambridge with an Education above NVQ Level 4 is around 65%, which is extremely high and very few people in Cambridge have no qualifications at all.

There has been 2570 start ups in Cambridge as of 2014. This is on the increase despite the only downfall of staff costs being higher. But in a city with one of the most prestigious Universities in the world – what would you expect?

Funding

Due to the prestige and influence of Cambridge university, there is great funding for start ups.  Cambridge University have an enterprise arm which has 1000 commercial agreements with businesses providing consultancy, expertise & new technologies.

Investment is readily available too, with Angel investors such as Cambridge Angels being prominent.  There is also an £11m “Grants4Growth” programme, this along with many other schemes in Cambridgeshire gives businesses funding to small and medium size businesses.

They also run “IdeaSpace” which is run by the University Of Cambridge. It’s a community of people and graduates in Cambridge which are starting high impact ventures. Ideaspace creates new business models & technology  which are intended to affect millions of people in a positive way. The Ideaspace community have access to many resources thanks to the University Of Cambridge having a heavy influence.

Cambridge Council have a list of organisations that can help with a start up.

In addition Cambridge University also offer:

In addition to all of this, Cambridge are part of a tech cluster called “Silicon Fen” – this is where a large number of super high tech firms are focusing on cutting edge software, electronics & biotechnology. They have full support of the University and thus new startups should have no problems looking for funding in these industries.

With such a large array of positive influencers on business, you can see why Cambridge has made our top 5.

Quality Of Life

Local Cambridge Business: Genie Ventures – Q & A with Ciaron Dunne CEO

About Genie Ventures
Ciaron Dunne is the co-founder and CEO of Genie Ventures. Genie businesses include the search agency Genie Goals, the popular broadband comparison website Broadband Genie and the office search engine Office Genie.

Q1) Why did you start your business in Cambridge?

We actually started off flitting between Cambridge and London. I settled on Cambridge partly because I lived here, and partly because the rent (at the time, at least!) were much cheaper and I didn’t want all our early revenues vanishing to our landlord.

Q2) What are three positive things about starting a business in Cambridge in your experience?

  1. Customers love coming to Cambridge. Most of our customers are based in or around London, and it’s very easy to sell the idea of a day in Cambridge – old pubs, punting, the beer festival, colleges and so on! Cambridge has a lot to offer, and we’ve had great success playing on that.
  2. Cambridge has a hugely strong, positive brand in its own right. Cambridge is associated with smart people (for obvious reasons), world-class technology companies, growth and success. Whether those are all true or not is another matter, but – as a marketing technology business based in Cambridge – customers and partners make the positive association. We trade on it as much as we can.
  3. Cambridge is just full of crazy, fascinating people from all over the country and the world. I struggle to think of a more multicultural and multinational city. It’s quite incredible and inspirational. Our own team is a great example – a real mixture of people from anywhere and everywhere. It’s a privilege to live, work and recruit in such an amazing place.

Q3) Could you name a negative of starting a business here?

Commercial rents are wages are high (compared to the rest of the UK, rather than just London), and there’s a shortage of internet / e-commerce companies for us to hang around with. The train station is too small for a city of this size, and of course there’s never enough parking. Plus of course it’s a relatively well-off area so you don’t get any subsidies or grants for starting a business here. The traffic is appalling. Apart from all that, I can’t think of anything!

Q4) If you were to be given the opportunity to start again at a different location – where would you choose?

I would still choose Cambridge. But my second choice would be Birmingham – partly because I’m from near there and like it, and partly because I think it has massively untapped human potential for tech companies.

Q5) Would you recommend Cambridge as a great place to start a business?            

Yes of course. It’s an amazing city, full of incredibly motivated people and very close to London.

 

3rd place –  Bristol

bristol

Image Credit: Shutterstock | Jacek Wojnarowski

Is the European Green Capital the place to start your business?

Bristol, the Green Capital according to the European Commission is one of our personal favourite places for a startup. It’s an amazing city with real character. Only 90 minutes from London with great public transport links internally.

Bristol By Numbers

Startups

Bristol has a well established Tech cluster making it the perfect place for Microelectronics & aerospace engineering related start ups. There is also a great turnover of graduates coming out of Bristol & the nearby Bath (12 miles away.)

Brighton is featuring “TedxBristol 2015” on the 11th of November. If you haven’t heard of Ted Talks, look them up! – They are awesome.

tedtalks

Brand new business survival rates are pretty high too. It was reported on 2012 that over 60% of startups managed to get through their first year with a positive ROI. The Bristol Post did a feature entitled “Dragons Den on Steroids” – Bristol Tech Start Ups Buzzing After Seedcamp Talks” in 2014.

There has been 2055 start ups in Bristol in 2014.

Funding

Funding for startups in Bristol is very positive. The Bristol.gov website is a really good source of information, they detail government finance support schemes such as:

  • “The Small Loans for Business Scheme provides loans of up to £50,000 to small and medium sized businesses that have viable business plans but have been refused bank finance.
  • The Enterprise Finance Guarantee provides lenders with a government guarantee to loan money to businesses.
  • Finance for Business offers flexible finance solutions such as loans and equity finance for businesses that have viable business plans but have been unable to get support from commercial banks and investors.
  • The Grant for Business Investment (GBI) Scheme provides capital to support business investment or job creation projects. Grants begin at £10,000.
  • West of England Growth Fund. The Fund can support a range of projects and activities, such as investment in capital assets, research and development projects and training programmes”

There are also non government run schemes and organizations such as Inets South West Microelectronics.

Quality Of Life

Bristol is a great place to live. Picturesque, clean, great public transport with a further £400m being invested in transport infrastructure to reduce energy usage

  • £329,667  average semi detached house price. (September 2015)
  • 20mbps: Average broadband speed
  • 60 Crimes per 1,000 people. (March 2014)
  • Large student population
  • Amazing attractions and beautiful scenery

Local Bristol Business Q&A with Giles, CEO at Office Pantry

First of all, Giles, tell us a bit about Office Pantry
Office Pantry  deliver food to companies nationwide, from snacks and meeting packs to fruit boxes, so I get to eat food for a living and share the good stuff with our customers.

Q1) Why did you start your business in Bristol?
We actually started our business in Bath, before moving to the bright lights of London. After 12 months there, we moved to Bristol in May and haven’t looked back since. Moving to Bristol has been our best business decision to date.

Q2) What are three positive things about starting a business in Bristol in your experience?

Far more than 3 but:

1) It is a tech hub with JustEat, Oracle and HP all having a large presence here.

2) The startup scene is thriving  with loads of events for every industry. There is even an Entrepreneurial Spark hub which is a free startup accelerator.

3) You see people again! A strange thing to say but having been in London it is amazing to see people at events again. Either bumping into them in the street or at other events. It leads to actual follow-ups which is fantastic.

Q3) Could you name a negative of starting a business here?

It feels a bit like being in the film Hot Fuzz – everyone is super positive about the city, and I feel if I say something negative the Bristol cult will come out and get me. So nothing negative to see here everyone. nothing *at all*.

Q4) If you were to be given the opportunity to start again at a different location – where would you choose?

Probably Manchester if in the UK as I haven’t been here before. Otherwise the world is your oyster right so how about Vietnam? I hear great things from my friend Josh who runs Echoes His team are split between Bristol and Vietnam. Another friend of mine Louise has even moved out there full-time.

Q5) Would you recommend Bristol as a great place to start a business?

Undoubtedly, but don’t all come at once please – let’s keep it a hidden startup gem for as long as possible.

 

2nd place – Edinburgh

edinburgh

Image Credit: Shutterstock | Shaiith

A city rich with culture and buzzing with tourism, and a real science and technology hotspot. Is the heart of Scotland a good place to start your business?

Edinburgh is home  to some of the country’s leading science parks and research centres. It has a large airport with over 40 airlines in operation. It is also just one hour from Glasgow – which is another major place for startups and has 3 great universities of its own, not including any around Glasgow or surrounding areas. It has fantastic access to talent with over 300,000 of the working population with NVQ level 4 or above.

Edinburgh By Numbers

Startups

For startups Edinburgh has absolutely loads to offer. They have industry leading start up support such as Techcu, providing affordable office space & services. Edinburgh also home to edinburgh.entrepreneurial-spark.com accelerator. Great for businesses in the early stages needing to get off the ground quickly.

There is also lots of advice and resources available for funding for new business, including access to Angel Investors and government backed initiatives. We have found bgateway offer great advice and can definitely point you in the right direction.

Quality Of Life

Q&A With Sarah Connelly, director of Odyssey Boutique

About Odyssey Boutique
Odyssey Boutique – is a destination store for ‘real’ lingerie, year-round swimwear and highest quality waxing for the fashionable girl-about-town. Odyssey Boutique sell exclusive lingerie from designers such as Stella McCartney, Lascivious, Simone Perele and Heidi Klein

Q1) Why did you start your business in Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is my home town, and much as I’d love a place in the sun, I know the in’s and out’s of the city which make launching a business much easier than starting somewhere completely fresh.

Q2) What are three positive things about starting a business in Edinburgh  in your experience?
I’ve lived and worked in Edinburgh my whole adult life so I understand the seasons, the trends, the people. I also have the back-up of family & friends when I need extra hands on deck. Plus Edinburgh is so easily connected I can jump on a train to London or on a flight to Paris for trade shows and be back in a flash. Never missing a beat is core to managing a successful business.

Q3) Can  you name any negatives  of starting a business here?
The climate is not my friend, a wet summer or snowy winter can cause havoc on clients reaching me. So I’m looking into alternative plans to ensure I can always be in touch with clients when they need me.

Q4) If you were to be given the opportunity to start again at a different location, where would you choose?
I wouldn’t do things differently. It’s a cliché, but so true: you learn from your mistakes. In the future I’ll work more remotely thanks to online and telecoms facilities, connecting with my team and keeping an eye on things from somewhere sunnier.

Q5) Would you recommend Edinburgh as a great place to start a business?
Edinburgh is packed with independent businesses from all sectors, and with the cities stunning scenery it’s a perfect location to have a meeting walking around Princes Street Gardens.

1st Place – Manchester

manchester

Image Credit: Shutterstock | Shahid Khan

Welcome to Manchester, the winner of our guide for best places to start a business in 2015. Manchester is a fast evolving digital hub with rich historical culture.  With superb transport links to other major UK cities such as Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham and London, this ensures Manchester hits the ground running as a place to start doing business.

There are many factors why we chose Manchester as the best place for startups in the UK in 2015. It has one of the biggest university campuses in Europe. It has great transport links, a large international airport and 5 universities hosting a massive wealth of talent. Manchester also has the largest economy outside London.

Manchester is a hub of entrepreneurship, with over 13,000 startups in 2014. You can really see the effect on Manchester too, it is changing so rapidly, with the northern quarter almost doubling in footfall over the last 2 years alone.

Manchester is also home to Media City “The Landing” – which is amazing. It offers up to 6 months office space (serviced, with super fast broadband included, and administerial services) for absolutely free to tech start ups. On top of this being a great deal, it’s an absolutely stunning location for an office, only 10 minutes from the centre of Manchester by tram and in the same place as the BBC centres. You will frequently see celebrities in this area, and with the beautiful open gardens and coffee shops which grace the office complex area – who can blame them?

Leeds, number five on our list, also shares great road links with Manchester, and being only 50 minutes away via the trans-pennine M62 (the highest motorway in England), ensures that these two great cities combine to form an integral part of the Northern Powerhouse.

Quality Of Life

  • 188,477  average semi detached house price. (September 2015)
  • 23mbps: Average broadband speed
  • 106 Crimes per 1,000 people. (March 2014) (down to 64 in Salford)
  • Massive student population
  • Lots of Tourists
  • Amazing attractions and beautiful scenery
  • Close to Derbyshire

The quality of living in Manchester is great with rural surrounds only a stone’s throw away. House prices are very low compared to the South and having a strong public transport infrastructure offering reasonably priced tickets making  our London friends green with envy

Startups

If you are thinking of starting a business in Manchester you have to aim high. Manchester was the first industrial city and the birthplace of the computer – pretty ironic now it’s a digital hotspot. It is not surprising according to the MEN News that Manchester is the the sixth most popular place for migrants to start a business.

Fundraising

There are extensive fundraising opportunities and schemes for new businesses in Manchester. Manchester.gov.uk provides some great information. But on top of fundraising there is genuine support in Manchester for new businesses. With Media City offering completely free offices for 6 months for new tech start ups and located in a beautiful location adjacent to the old Coronation street set with fantastic views of Salford Quays it’s certainly opportunity to create something special

The North West Business Fund also provide a ton of fundraising opportunities, such as

Micro Loans – £25k –  £50k

Energy and Environmental Grants – £50k -£2m

Biomedical £50k-£1.5m

Northwest Digital & Creative £50k-£1.5m

Northwest Fund For Mezzanine £750k-£2m

Venture Capital – £50k-£2m

There are also various Angel Investors available, such as North West Business Angels

 

Q&A with Manchester based company, Recruit my Buddy

RecruitMyBuddy are an innovative new recruitment website who encourage people to recommend their peers for jobs roles that are posted on their website. Reacting to the desire to do away with recruiters, it is looking to bring the personal touch back to the jobs market with candidates being put forward for jobs they would suit by the people that know them best.

Q1) Why did you start your business in Greater Manchester?

With the North West undergoing what some would see as an economic revival as part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ concept, it was a no-brainer for us to begin Recruit My Buddy in Manchester. Businesses are growing quickly across the country – but particularly in Greater Manchester and surround regions and that fits our business model perfectly; we’re able to offer start-ups and SMEs an affordable-yet-reliable recruitment solution, supplying talent without the usual high fees associated with recruitment.

Q2) What are three positive things about starting a business in Greater Manchester in your experience?

To choose three is quite difficult – as is to avoid clichés!

It’s safe to say that certain industries are thriving at present – we’ve found that one of these is digital marketing. Greater Manchester is now home to some of the leading agencies (and marketing departments) in the country and has become a real hub for this skillset. We’ve been able to piggyback on the growth of this industry a little; building some strong, lasting relationships through providing quality referrals to a range of companies.

Greater Manchester is also home to some fantastic talent across a range of industries so filling jobs hasn’t necessarily been difficult for our network of referrers, which has led to some great repeat business for us.

Finally, the culture, atmosphere and general feel of business around Greater Manchester is fantastic. We love working in positive environments and pride ourselves on being friendly and approachable. Our ethos is matched time and time again whenever we go out and meet current and potential clients.

Q3) Could you name a negative of starting a business here?

Nothing springs to mind as a negative – we don’t tend to highlight negatives as something that would hold us (as a business) back. Anything we’ve been challenged by we have used as an opportunity to learn and develop in such a fast-paced industry. Starting a business anywhere will have its challenges; but we firmly believe we’ve selected the right area to begin Recruit My Buddy’s growth.

Q4) If you were to be given the opportunity to start again at a different location – where would you choose?

We’re both from Preston, so for simplicity we’d probably say there. That being said, though, travelling just 30 miles or so has opened our eyes to the amount of opportunities there are for businesses out there. So even if we started again, we know our ‘base’ wouldn’t be where we do most of our business.

Q5) Would you recommend Greater Manchester as a great place to start a business?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Greater Manchester offers a mass of support networks for start-ups, but businesses have got to spread their wings and push their own boundaries if they want to develop in today’s age. We knew we needed to start local, as word of mouth is so important in this industry. From here, a natural ripple effect is taking our business to the next level – pushed by us travelling a little further afield to support growth.

Conclusion

The UK is an amazing place to start a business right now. While the financial climate of our country overall is not all sunshine and rainbows, there is definitely scope to start your own business.

Faster internet speeds lead to more cloud based technology

Credit: Khwanchai Khattinon | Shutterstock

Credit: Khwanchai Khattinon | Shutterstock

Starting or running a successful Business can be one of the most exciting and satisfying experiences in your life. However there is one important factor which should be considered before you start regardless of what your business is going to offer. It’s fair to say no business can run to its full potential without having certain trading tools we all take for granted such as a Telephone, Computer & Internet.

However there many locations in the UK where the infrastructure is so poor theses tools are still not stable enough in order to run a business.

This is set to change,  Ofcom have reported “Nearly one in three UK broadband connections are now Super fast(30Mbit/s or above )” that is up from 1 in 4 in 2013.

UK Businesses are getting better access to super fast broadband and this is revolutionising the way businesses are run. It is predicted within the next 5 years all your documents, email, applications will be stored in the “cloud” and even the traditional phone system will be replaced by hosted Voice over IP (VoIP). Hosted voice will completely change the way you communicate and it will unify all your current voice ( & video) equipment into one single application.

Progress By Numbers

Facts 2014 2015
Number of UK fixed residential & SME broadband lines 22.8 million 23.7 million
Proportion of adults with broadband in the UK (fixed & mobile) 77% (Q1 2014) 80% (Q1 2015)
Superfast fixed broadband take-up (excluding leased lines) 23.2% (end 2013) 30.0% (end 2014)
Superfast fixed broadband lines 5.3 million (end of 2013) 7.1million (end of 2014)
Average UK broadband speed 17.8Mbit/s (Nov 2013) 22.8Mbit/s (Nov 2014)
Proportion of people who use their mobile handset to access the internet 66% (2013) 72% (2014)

Information Source: Ofcom.org

The guardian reported studies even show that a fast broadband speeds have a direct correlation to earnings for domestic users.  There has been a study based on 22,000 households that showed an average increase of £201/month per family.

This trend has an impact on GDP. Ericsson research has showed that doubling a countries internet speed would increase GDP by 0.3% and for every 10% increase in the number of people online, a nations GDP rises by 1%. Looking at the above figures of 80% of UK residents having broadband – you can see why the government is investing £530 Million trying to improve broadband speeds.

“We want to achieve a transformation in our broadband access, with everyone in the UK able to access broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) and 95% of the UK receiving far greater speeds (at least 24Mbps) by 2017. We are also exploring options to extend the benefits of fast broadband to remaining areas.” – Gov.uk

With this rapid increase in Broadband, for business & home it is enabling businesses to facilitate technology which as previously not been an option such as Hosted VoIP. With all the advantages hosted VoIP can give your business do you really want to wait 5 years so your area’s infrastructure is strong enough to start or run a business using Voice over IP (VoIP) and cloud computing? If not here are the top 5 locations throughout the UK where business grade super fast broadband is readily available

UK Broadband speed Map

Use the interactive map below to see internet speeds around the UK

Map Credit: Gov.uk | Produced with Google maps

Man receives free pizza & ice cream after a social media battle between Three & O2. #Waggytails

But is it all a marketing ploy?

  • Dan May sent a tweet hash-tag to O2 asking for his free pizza via their  #waggytails promotion
  • Dan didn’t get any pizza, and was left hungry and disappointed
  • He complained on Twitter threatening to switch to Three who picked up the slack and immediately sent Dan pizza and ice cream (good move Three!)
  • O2 fired back and responded with free pizza every week for a year.
  • Dan is no longer hungry.

In a pretty crazy series of events, mobile phone giant Three gave Dan May a pile of pizzas and a mountain of ice-cream in order to win his business. Whilst not to be outdone, O2 have followed up and given the same customer a whole years supply of pizza and a Fitbit as a nice bonus; presumably to encourage Dan to keep himself fit if he’s going to be enjoying lots of delicious pizza.

The whole thing started when Dan started the feud on Twitter between the two companies.

danmay

O2 had launched a promotion where users tweet their address with the #waggytails hashtag and receive free lunch in the form of pizza or ice-cream. As an O2 customer, Dan did just that; however, he was left feeling disappointed and hungry after not receiving a response or a pizza, so he decided to take to social media and make a valiant stand for his love of italian foodstuffs and delicious ice cream. That’s when things really kicked off!

We’ll leave it to the twitter stream to take over from here…

danmay2

 As you can see, Dan threatened to move to Three, however this did not fall on deaf ears like you would expect. Instead Three saw their opportunity to help Dan out of his hunger woes (and hopefully win his business) by picking up on his plea for pizza in a marketing move that went the extra mile.  One-nil to Three (I enjoyed typing that!).

However O2 not to be outdone by their rivals came up with the goods and trumped Three’s offering with a voucher for “Free Dominoes Pizza!” for a year for Dan, completely blowing Three’s pizza & ice cream out of the water. Game and Set to O2.

Winner, “Free PizzaDan.”

The plot thickens

 It should be noted, that on March 25th the Mirror along with other major news outlets reported that Three have bought 02 for just over £10 Billion. Now we haven’t actually heard much about this takeover in the media since around then. But HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS have seen this Twitter Pizza drama.

On face value – we think Three’s marketing team did an amazing job here. They picked up O2’s loose ball with quick wit and good intentions. O2 couldn’t lose face and needed to throw more money at it to keep themselves in the game.

Three didn’t need to come back with any better offer, the social media work had been done for the day so they left it at that – however the outcome of the campaign being that thousands of people will have been talking about Three & O2 is a win-win for both. The fact Three own O2, gives you the impression there might have been some collusion between marketing departments here, but maybe that fishy smell is just the anchovies on the pizza?!

The Real winners – Low price Pizza

The best deal we can find for free Pizza is 2 large for £20  from Pizza Hut. – If you know any other great pizza deals please let us know on our Facebook page.

PMC Telecom respond to a question asked on Twitter

We explain how VoIP systems and IP Phones will benefit your business.

twitterquestion

This is a question we get asked a lot at PMC Telecom. We have reached out to Sarah to give her some advice on what kind of phone system would suit her needs. We started by asking:

“In an ideal world, what would you expect from your phone system?”

“At the moment I use my mobile phone most of the time, but I do have an office phone. My problem is my business is expanding, and although I take most of the calls currently, more and more I need my staff at my office to take the calls depending on what the customer needs. I know that when I call big companies you get a list of options to choose from and depending on what numbers you choose denotes who the call goes to. I’d like that for a start.

My friend who works in a busy office has her own direct dial number, so rather than calling the main switchboard, if I need to speak to her directly I can call her directly. I’d like to have that same facility in my office if possible. I’d also like to be able to forward calls directly to another number (my mobile?) regardless of where I am in the world and to take calls on my laptop if possible (I sometimes use Skype calls anyway) and if at all possible keep all this under one phone number.

Also, I’d also like to be able to record calls for reference and staff training.

There is also a very high chance that I will need to move office in the near future, so this makes the whole process even more complicated. I know this is a big ask for a small company, but if you can help advise in any way possible, that would be brilliant!”

On the face of it, this all sounds like a tall order. So what did we advise?

Based on the needs of Sarah’s business we suggested Voice Cloud HD, Our Hosted VoIP Solution. It’s the absolute perfect system for Sarah’s business and addresses all of her requirements directly.

Why Voice Cloud HD?

For a company which is likely to expand its telephony needs, a cloud solution is a great option since it is so easy to scale quickly as a business expands. There are no requirements to install complex and expensive PBX systems on site, simply using your business broadband to connect to the cloud gives you HD call quality along with a multitude of features to configure your business phone numbers however you want from an easy to navigate online portal.

Let’s address Sarah’s questions directly:

“My problem is my business is expanding”

An expanding business is great news, and with a cloud based phone system it means you don’t have to worry about expanding in regards to your telecoms. You can add or take away “lines” very quickly as needed – there is no hardware at your office and because it’s served from a dedicated high speed server hosting facility, changing your line requirements is very simple to do.

“I know that when I call big companies you get a list of options to choose from and depending on what numbers you choose denotes who the call goes to. I’d like that for a start.”

Auto Attendant is one of the many premium features are actually included with Voice Cloud HD and are no longer restricted to large companies with big budgets. Using the Voice Cloud HD portal it is simple to set-up “groups” (Sales, Marketing Accounts, etc) within your organisation to receive calls when the customer chooses the option directed at that particular group, this way, the caller gets transferred directly to a member of staff who can help them more effectively.

It is worth noting that there are a whole host of other premium features included with Voice Cloud HD such as:

  • Voicemail to email inbox – listen to voicemails from any internet enabled device.

  • Music on Hold – Choose from a variety of licence free music genres or even upload your own custom Music on Hold track.

  • Call recording

  • Remote call management

  • Free calls between different offices regardless of location on Voice Cloud HD

  • View all business calls logs from any internet enabled device.

“My friend who works in a busy office has her own direct dial number, so rather than calling the main switchboard, if I need to speak to her directly I can call her directly. I’d like to have that same facility in my office if possible.”

Using Voice Cloud HD it is easy for us to set-up direct dial numbers on your account which will only ring certain user’s handsets, laptops, or any other internet enabled device. Further to this using hosted VoIP technology enables a person to be contacted via their direct dial on whichever device they are using and regardless of where they are in the world.

“I’d also like to be able to forward calls directly to another number (my mobile?) regardless of where I am in the world”

With a Hosted VoIP solution such as Voice Cloud HD, this isn’t even an issue. In fact it’s something our customers find hard to believe how flawless it works. From the Voice Cloud HD Portal, it is easy to chose any number to redirect your calls to, this can include your skype number

“There is also a very high chance that I will need to move office in the near future, so this makes the whole process even more complicated.”

Voice Cloud HD completely takes away your telephony worries. If you need to move office, simply unplug your phones, take them to your new office, plug them into your new office broadband connection and voila! Your numbers, contacts and any other information remains exactly the same, the only concern you need to have is to ensure that you have a business grade broadband solution set up and ready to go at your new office as you move. As your company expands we can accommodate your broadband requirements by either adding value to your current infrastructure or even add additional broadband should you need it.

“Also, I’d also like to be able to record calls for reference and staff training.”

Voice Cloud HD comes with all big business premium features as standard. This includes call recording. You can retrieve your call recordings from anywhere using your laptop or any internet enabled web browser.

If you would like to learn more about Voice Cloud HD you can read more here