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Broadband headache: Go Ape forks out £30,000 to combat sluggish rural internet speeds

10:11 14 February 2014

Go Ape Tree Top Adventure. Go Ape, which establised its first high ropes course at Thetford Forest in Norfolk. Picture: Submitted

Go Ape Tree Top Adventure. Go Ape, which establised its first high ropes course at Thetford Forest in Norfolk. Picture: Submitted

Archant

The boss of Go Ape has invested £30,000 into high-speed broadband after sluggish internet speeds threatened to derail its growth plans.

Jerome Mayhew, Go ApeJerome Mayhew, Go Ape

Jerome Mayhew said a fibre-optic line was crucial to its rapid expansion that will create 100 jobs this year.

But the decision to set up its new headquarters on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds – close to its old base – meant it had to foot the bill for the installation because the network was out of date.

Mr Mayhew fears that rural locations maybe losing out on new jobs because fast-growth firms are moving out of the countryside and into the city, where the internet speed is faster.

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“We operate all around the country – and across the globe – so we really need good broadband,” the managing director said. “The quote we got from one broadband provider was £105,000.

“It is an incredible frustration and it really holds back the rural economy. It funnels all the job creation into Cambridge and Norwich – jobs that would otherwise be spread more evenly.”

The high ropes adventure company said it will create four marketing jobs at its new HQ in Fornham St Martin, where it will have more space to grow.

And it is also drawing up a strategy to expand further into America and establish new sites in Russia.

It comes after the business, which opened its first Tree Top course at Thetford Forest in 2002, revealed plans to bolster turnover by 20pc and recruit 100 new staff by building a new urban adventure hub at Battersea Park, a Zip Trek course overlooking the Cumbrian Valley, and eight new courses for young people.

But despite its international presence, Mr Mayhew said its Thetford site remains its most popular – and the first place for investment.

“In the UK we are all for geographical expansion when we can find really good sites,” he said. “But it is a small island and we have 30 locations already.

“In terms of the international expansion, we hope to open two or three courses in America and five more next year. We are also looking at expanding into Russia.”

• Are poor internet speeds holding back your business? Contact business writer Ben Woods on ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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