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2014 | Innovation
BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street
London EC1A 7AJ

BT is incredibly proud of its association with The Queen’s Awards which goes all the way back to 1984.

In fact, 1984 really was a landmark year for BT. Not only was the company honoured to receive its first ever Queen’s Award, it was also privatised that November.

As the world’s oldest communications company, BT’s roots can be traced all the way back to 1864 and the founding of The Electric Telegraph Company.

This was the pioneering firm responsible for creating a nationwide commercial telegraph service that made communications possible within minutes and hours instead of days and weeks.

Fast-forward through to today and the trail-blazing spirit exhibited by its Victorian forerunner remains a key characteristic of modern BT.

Indeed, in the last few decades, technology and innovation have become more central to BT’s business than ever. And this is something reflected in the recognition the company has received through winning six very prestigious Queen’s Awards.

The first award, in 1984, went to the Videotex section of BT’s research department based at Martlesham Heath Laboratories near Ipswich (now known as Adastral Park). This was for work on the Prestel viewdata system.

BT Laboratories triumphed again in 1993 and 1994. The labs won Queen’s Awards for Technological Achievement for work on creating a number of techniques used in optical fibre networks, the technology that now underpins most of the world’s communications networks, the internet, and global business.

The 1994 award was specifically for the invention of blown fibre technology. This is a method which uses compressed air to literally ‘blow’ optical fibre along underground ducts. It’s a simple idea but an important one as it enables fibre to be deployed efficiently and cost effectively. What’s more, it’s a technology that’s still used all over the world today.

BT’s progressive approach to sustainability was also recognised and rewarded when it won two Queen’s Awards (in 2003 and 2008) for sustainable development.

And last year, BT Technology, Service & Operations (BT TSO) became a 2014 Queen’s Award winner for its collaborative work with BT Wholesale and BT Global Services on IP Exchange (IPX) – a communications transit hub which interconnects UK and global telecoms companies.

BT has changed a great deal since 1984 and that first Queen’s Award. Today’s BT is a truly global business, an established TV broadcaster (with BT Sport) and a mobile player once again.

However, its ambitions around creating innovation remain the same.

A good example of this is the exciting work BT is doing to develop the communications networks of the future at its globally-recognised research laboratories at Adastral Park. This includes the development of (ultrafast broadband over copper), and recent real-world speed records for data transmission over single-mode optical fibre.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of BT TSO, said: “In BT we always feel an immense amount of pride every time we win a Queen’s Award because there is no higher recognition for business achievement. We’ve been participating for more than thirty years now and this will continue; we want to win more!”