In today's fast-paced world, staying connected is more crucial than ever before. Whether it's for work, education, or simply staying in touch with loved ones, access to reliable and fast internet has become a necessity and is often referred to as the 4th Utility! Unfortunately, not everyone in the UK has equal access to these digital services. That's where Connected Britain steps in, bringing together stakeholders from across the connectivity ecosystem to explore how full access to fiber and 5G enables enormous opportunity and digital equity for the UK’s economy and its people.
During the two-day event at London Excel, industry experts, policymakers, and technology providers came together to discuss and highlight innovative strategies and solutions to enhance connectivity across the nation. From addressing challenges in rural areas to improving network infrastructure in urban centers, Connected Britain is at the forefront of enabling full fiber broadband connectivity in the UK.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the key topics and challenges discussed at the 2023 event and share how IQGeo is playing a pivotal role in helping fiber operators bridge the digital divide.
Broadband access for all
Consolidation in the UK broadband market
An integrated PIA strategy for UK broadband providers
Meeting UK fiber build targets with automated fiber planning and design
1. Broadband access for all
One of the primary challenges in providing broadband access for all lies in having reliable connectivity to remote and underserved rural communities. Successful broadband deployment in these regions demands speed and agility, and operators building fiber in rural areas cannot afford to make multiple field visits. They need to get it right first time!
There are several strategies to make deploying rural broadband more efficient, one of which is to operate digitally both in the field and office. An example of an altnet doing this is Alncom, who is on a mission to deliver fiber to rural communities across Northumberland. With private and government funding, Alncom has developed a very efficient fiber planning and rollout model that allows their field engineers to connect homes and businesses with a single site visit.
Their team of designers and multiskilled field engineers are using IQGeo’s fiber network management software to streamline planning and construction processes, optimize rural fiber deployments, and operate in remote locations with access to network data on mobile devices. Their technology strategy is tightly linked with the training and management of multiskilled office and field teams to ensure the network is implemented quickly and efficiently.
In a FTTH Council webinar, Gareth Carter, Commercial Director at Alncom, discusses in more detail how they are conquering the rural broadband challenge.
Connectivity in social housing is another key area that needs attention if we are to reduce the digital divide. Broadband provider Giggle founded their business on one simple principle, ‘Everyone deserves equal access to amazing broadband connectivity,’ and they are currently building a new fiber network in Glasgow. As part of their initial research, they collected data across the region and discovered that 99% of the 9% of people with no access to broadband are in social housing, which led Giggle to focus on providing fast, fair, and reliable broadband to all.
Having more certainty over costs and avoiding multiple site visits also applies to operators like Giggle, and using an end-to-end solution to manage their network helps to deploy resources effectively, ensuring as many people as possible in the community have equal access to digital services.
2. Consolidation in the UK altnet market
We have witnessed a significant rise in mergers and acquisitions within the altnet space. Consolidation has become the name of the game as these emerging players join forces to enhance their reach, scale, and competitiveness. The consolidation trend has numerous advantages, such as pooling resources, expanding infrastructure, and optimizing operations. However, this brings several challenges, such as integration of systems and processes, and being able to access various kinds of network data across multiple sources.
It is critical for business continuity and operational effectiveness to have a single source of truth where all the different data can be brought together into one common, easy-to-use platform that can be easily accessed by office and field teams across the business. As altnets continue to consolidate, we can expect to witness exciting advancements in the UK's connectivity landscape. Apart from reaching more areas, these united forces have the potential to disrupt the monopoly of traditional telecom providers, fostering a more diverse and competitive market.
3. An integrated PIA strategy for UK broadband providers
As with previous years, a hot topic of conversation was around the Openreach Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) environment. This resource is essential for almost all the altnet providers at Connected Britain, and having an integrated strategy is vital for successful fiber rollout. However, this can only happen if altnets have the right vision and technology to support the integration. Simply utilizing the PIA APIs with siloed workflows will fail to capitalize on the potential and could compromise the network build-out and maintenance efficiency of operators.
IQGeo's fiber network management software and team are helping broadband providers create a truly integrated PIA strategy for your fiber planning and design requirements, including using PIA data during the design processes, the ability to create and manage Notices of Intent (NOI), and implementing a solution for duct blockages, including A55 forms.
Check out our blog post on ‘An integrated PIA strategy for UK altnet providers’ to read more about this topic and see an example integrated scenario.
4. Meeting UK fiber build targets with automated fiber planning and design
To meet UK build targets outlined in the Levelling Up White Paper published in February 2022, for gigabit-broadband to be available nationwide by 2030, operators must be able to plan and design their networks as quickly and efficiently as possible. As altnets look to scale up their operations and number of homes passed, replacing manual processes with an automated fiber planning can reduce planning and design times by up to 90%, while integrating construction workflows can save up to 10% on your build costs.
With automated fiber planning and design software like IQGeo’s Comsof Fiber, operators have the power to optimize FTTx network designs, including the use of PIA data. This not only saves valuable planning and design time, but also ensures network consistency, ultimately resulting in reduced construction and maintenance costs, which delivers faster deployment.
The future of UK Connectivity
Connected Britain is addressing the pressing issue of digital inclusivity in the UK, and IQGeo is making significant strides in helping operators to bridge the digital divide and meet key business KPIs. Through our award-winning geospatial fiber network management software, IQGeo is empowering the telecommunication industry and altnet providers to plan, design, build, and manage their networks more effectively.
The future of a connected Britain is bright, thanks to the collaborative efforts of industry leaders and technology providers like IQGeo. Together, we can build better networks for a more connected and inclusive nation.
To see IQGeo’s fiber network management software in action, visit the feature video library.