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BT today announced it is tripling broadband speeds for more than 5,900 micro-businesses in Manchester, as it launches a new business unit to serve the country’s smallest firms and start-ups. The new unit is launching in Manchester by offering discounted full fibre packages for thousands of micro businesses – which typically have a handful of employees.
As more companies have relied on their digital presence to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic, and with record numbers of start-ups springing up, the need for investment in new technologies such as full fibre and 5G has grown. Working with its infrastructure partner Openreach, BT’s Enterprise business will focus on bringing full fibre to businesses across Manchester, including 5,900 micro businesses initially. These businesses will be able to access BT’s fastest full fibre speeds yet – up to 900Mbps – a tripling of the speeds previously available. BT’s Enterprise business expects more of Manchester’s businesses to benefit from these full fibre speeds over time as Openreach continues to expand its fibre footprint across the country.

Recent research by BT has found that more than 70 per cent of small firms in Manchester are confident in the success of their business as the lockdown restrictions lift. And with more than 11,000 businesses set up in Manchester during 2020, the rise of digital shopkeepers and freelancers mean that an increasing number are running their business from home.

BT is so convinced by the high-growth potential of micro-businesses and start ups in Manchester and nationally – and their role in powering the post pandemic recovery – that it has carved out a new SoHo (Small/Single office, Home office) unit to focus on their digital and connectivity needs. As well as delivering business-grade connections which offer value for money and a premium customer service experience, BT will launch a new suite of services and apps to help the UK’s smallest and fledgling firms grow by building stronger digital foundations.

These new services could include stronger cyber security measures, free digital skills training and new digital advertising tools, for example.
Together with the launch of the UK’s first ‘unbreakable’ Wi-Fi for micro-businesses – delivering guaranteed coverage across the workplace, full fibre speeds and free tech expert support – the new unit will help the UK’s smallest firms and start-ups to rebuild and get set for growth.

Sarah Walker, BT Enterprise business director for the North, said: “By setting up this new unit we’re investing in the future of Manchester’s smallest firms and start-ups which are the lifeblood of the local economy. I’m really proud that we’re creating this new unit at a time when their success has never been more important in securing the city’s future as it rebuilds after the toughest economic crisis in a generation.

“In addition, we’re tripling the speed of full fibre broadband for businesses in Manchester, with nearly 5,900 of the city’s smallest firms now able to access speeds of up to 900Mbps through BT. The availability of our fastest business broadband speeds yet will grow over time as Openreach continues to expand its full fibre footprint across the city.”
A recent survey carried out by BT found that just under a quarter of small businesses in Manchester (21 per cent) planned to move more of their operations online following lockdown restrictions easing; while 61 per cent would be more likely to adopt new technologies if they knew the technology industry provided training or support.

BT’s new SoHo business unit will provide dedicated support for small and micro-businesses buying its new Halo for business broadband bundles, with free expert set-up of equipment and advanced UK-based remote IT support. A 4G back-up service will also be offered if there’s a problem with the fixed line, to ensure uninterrupted business connectivity.

As part of its bid to kick start the growth of UK micro-businesses and start-ups, BT is also trialling new online tools which will make it easier for them to run their own digital advertising campaigns.
BT’s new online tools are designed to remove some of the biggest barriers which are preventing the UK’s smallest companies from using digital advertising to boost their online presence and reach new customers. The new service is currently being trialled with customers and BT will share more details over the coming weeks.

The launch of the new SoHo business unit and the availability of new business broadband and digital marketing tools is further evidence of BT’s support for the UK’s small businesses. It builds on BT’s Small Business Support Scheme, a broad package of measures launched last Summer to help small businesses thrive during and beyond the pandemic, by boosting their

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