Convergence in Action

Neil Christie, Managing Director of Converged Communication Solutions

Comms Business Magazine talks to Neil Christie, Managing Director of Aberdeen based reseller Converged Communication Solutions about their quest to improve internet access for firms in north and north-east Scotland.

Established in 2005, Aberdeen based reseller Converged Communication Solutions is an internet, IT and telephony services firm.

Managing Director Neil Christie says this mix of services is perfect for his customers and enables clients to make just one phone call to sort out any problem rather than getting bounced around from supplier to supplier playing the ‘blame game’.

Right now, the company is engaged in a wide scale survey in to internet services capabilities for businesses located in north and north-east Scotland, “We have been an active lobbyist for better internet access for business for some time and there is little point when approaching the Scottish Government to just moan about poor services – they want hard facts and importantly they want to know how poor service is hindering or holding back business.

“We therefore launched an online survey to assess the impact that poor Internet connectivity has on businesses in the region. Questions were designed to build a picture of connectivity quality and identify whether slow and unreliable Internet connections are, as is often claimed, holding back economic growth.

Converged has championed the cause of ensuring all businesses across the Scotland have access to superfast Internet connections and lobbied the Scottish Government on the subject earlier this year, calling on them to match the UK Government’s decision to provide complete business rates relief on investments in new full fibre infrastructure, which the Scottish Government has pledged to do.

Slow and unreliable Internet connections are consistently cited as hampering economic growth, particularly in rural areas. We therefore hope to gauge what impact a poor connection has on a business day-to-day and in achieving its growth ambitions.

The survey also sets out to understand the level of dissatisfaction that business customers may have with their Internet connection, and what, if any, perceived barriers exist when it comes to changing supplier or connection type. In addition, Converged aims to identify how many businesses have invested in establishing a back-up connection in the event that the primary connection fails.”

Along with having its own equipment in 12 Openreach exchanges in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Inverness, and strategic partnerships with CityFibre and brightsolid, a data centre and cloud services provider, Converged has exclusive access to a pioneering wireless network in Aberdeenshire and Moray.

The wireless network provides superfast broadband connections, with speeds of up to 1Gbps.

“As more services are driven online and the UK economy digitises, the need for robust, high-speed Internet connections is crucial. One factor that has slowed the installation of full fibre connections has been the tax levied on it by government. This was something that Converged lobbied the Scottish Government on during a meeting with a local MSP, arguing the tax was hindering the roll-out of superfast Internet to communities across the country.

A fast and robust Internet connection is now one of the must-have tools for today’s businesses. With cloud computing packages, many governmental services now having to be accessed online, and telephony services being delivered via the Internet, our reliance on that important connection becomes clear.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments are committed to developing low carbon economies and superfast Internet is a central component in achieving that. In order to move forward and create an infrastructure that meets the needs of the diverse range of businesses that make up our economy – today and in the future – we must understand their challenges and concerns.

We aim to do that through this survey by shining a spotlight on the Internet speeds and service received by businesses in north and north-east Scotland. The information it generates can help to shape the services that we and our partners offer, and further illustrate to government the importance of superfast Internet for businesses and the public in every part of the country.

Our survey will identify specific local areas and clusters that have difficulties and needs where it is currently not financially viable for Openreach but could be viable for alternative access methods such as wireless.

The survey is due to conclude shortly so it’s early days on the findings but we are getting traction, support and good feedback from local press and Chambers of Commerce.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine