Recent events have transformed the world of work in unprecedented ways. Social media is full of advice on remote working and home schooling. It has also exposed the strategic urgency of connecting every part of the UK to the high-speed fibre network.
Higher broadband speeds have long been a key strategic goal but now is the time to make them a reality across the nation. In recent years the government has increased pressure on broadband infrastructure providers by setting targets for gigabit connections and ring-fencing investment for fibre roll-outs – particularly in rural and remote locations.
In December of last year, the Queen’s speech made it clear that full fibre connectivity remains a high priority for the UK. But goals and targets will not be enough to ensure that we scale the network up quickly and future-proof the nation’s infrastructure.
Ofcom’s decision to ensure that alternative networks (altnets) can access Openreach’s duct and pole infrastructure is certainly a step in the right direction. It should increase competition and lead to more cost effective networks being rolled out quickly.
However, this is just one measure and more work is still required. There are approximately 27 million homes in the UK, and ensuring each has a first-rate internet connection is a significant challenge. Meeting it quickly and efficiently will require a substantial capital expenditure from providers.
Lessons from other markets
Fortunately, there is much we can learn from similar rollouts in other countries, in order to avoid potential pitfalls. We at NTT DATA have worked all across Europe and can offer some valuable lessons gained along the way; especially in Spain one of the most mature markets.
A crucial thing we’ve learned from these markets is that making the physical infrastructure access (PIA) as easy as possible will be essential for comprehensive fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections to be viable and rolled out at speed.
Additionally, widespread adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can speed up data transfer between legacy systems and, artificial intelligence can help manage scheduling and route planning, with generic API’s also playing a major role in simplifying processes. Many may consider these small IT details but they make a huge difference.
Building better networks
NTT DATA is committed to building fibre networks that are as streamlined as possible, achieving this through three main areas of focus:
Network Project Management
Providing a planning and deployment office to help manage the roll-out of an FTTP network with key capabilities including; way leave, logistics, network component standardisation and PIA management.
This has been our core involvement in the Spanish market – where we played a pivotal role in a large-scale nationwide fibre roll-out.
NTT DATA has access to the most advanced and accurate civilian satellite imagery in the world and we are using it to help plan 5G networks in the UK. This data can be used to help plan fixed line fibre networks too – generating a uniquely detailed 3D urban image is useful for planning fibre routes and propagation.
Working with our partners, we can supply mobile field force solutions, which will allow networks to be digitally managed in the field. Additionally, NTT DATA provides end-to-end business intelligence to ensure the roll-out and forecasting is up to date and uses AI to predict risk.
We demonstrated this expertise recently in Italy, where we have helped to deliver a large IT systems for an FTTP provider– including CRM, BI tools and revenue management.
Full fibre connectivity
Looking further ahead, it’s not inconceivable that this widespread shift to remote work could permanently change our working patterns. Will employees want to shackle themselves back into a rigid 9-5 routine after experiencing an increased level of flexibility?
This long-heralded change to a more flexible working schedule will only serve to add pressure on the UK to hit fibre roll-out targets. NTT DATA has invaluable insights and experience that could help make the process as efficient as possible – combining technological advancements with deep knowledge of networks and the telco industry.
Currently, the future seems very uncertain but one thing recent events have made abundantly clear is that full fibre connectivity across the nation is now more vital than ever.