The UK government has named the areas which will be subject to the ‘full fibre’ trial. This is an attempt to improve the country's incredibly slow broadband speeds which currently rank below most of Europe. Businesses, schools and hospitals will benefit from the pilot scheme in Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, which are the first to trial the full-fibre network.
What is full-fibre?
Full fibre broadband uses fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology, which is widely regarded as the best way to deliver fast internet services. Here, the fast fibre optic cables run directly to homes and offices, providing a more stable, efficient and reliable connection than the traditional copper lines.
Full fibre can deliver speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second - which is fast enough to download an HD tv programme in 5 seconds. Currently, only 2 per cent of the UK has access to the full-fibre network. In the UK, most fibre connections are provided to a local cabinet, and the data is transferred to an older and slower copper cable.
Andrew Jones, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement "How we live and work today is directly affected by how good our broadband connection is." This statement is spot on. He went on to say “for our economy to thrive, it is vital we make smart investments to ensure our digital infrastructure is world-class and fit for the future. Full fibre connections are the gold standard and we are proud to announce today the next step to get Britain better connected.”
I am delighted with the news, and even more delighted with the decision to give businesses the opportunity to trial full-fibre broadband. Manchester is the second-largest business centre in the UK, and the opportunities for small businesses with this latest announcement are enormous.
The recent study showing the UK to rank 31st in the world for internet speed has really shown how poorly our infrastructure has been maintained by BT Openreach. Businesses in these six areas are extremely lucky to experience this milestone in the improvement of UK infrastructure. There are numerous benefits to fibre, below I’ve listed just a few:
Fibre internet is significantly faster than even the fastest internet over copper wires. The most significant benefit customers see is during peak times. During periods of high demand, businesses will not notice any slowing or impact on their network.
Unreliable and slow internet costs London based companies as little as £37 million a year. In truth, any unplanned ‘downtime’ of internet services will have an unscalable impact on a business. Unexpected internet blackouts have a real negative impact on communications and productivity.
The switch to full-fibre will eliminate all these negative attributes, as fibre is stronger than copper, and doesn’t get affected by the weather. It is also resistant to human and electrical interference unless the fibres are cut.
Fibre is much more secure than traditional copper wires. The only way it can be tampered with is if it is physically cut and brought to a stop. Hackers can gain access to copper internet connections with relative ease, due to cable tapping and other methods. Full fibre internet is a great way to increase your company’s protection against cybercrime
Better access to cloud-based technologies
More and more of today’s business tasks are moving online, with the advancement of cloud-based technologies. From CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) to data storage and even cloud-based phone systems (VoIP) are now mainly online. Over 80 per cent of companies now use the cloud in some way. Increased broadband speeds will allow companies to manage their cloud-based systems faster and more efficiently. There will be no delays in accessing any of your information either, which in turn means sales and customer service teams will no longer face delays with communicating with prospective customers.
It has been shown that slow internet causes employees to lose a whole week of productivity in a year. The cost of this week is immense, and while the time spent waiting for the internet can seem minimal, it soon adds up. Fast internet is considered a productivity tool for businesses. Improving speeds can save companies up to a week's worth of time otherwise lost. Likewise, if your connection is often tampered with due to weather conditions, fibre can save you £100’s a year.
I’ve tried to demonstrate here a range of the benefits that these six areas of the UK will benefit from. I’m excited to see how the trials will impact the success of businesses in these areas, and the benefits they notice during the transition.
How will full-fibre impact small communication providers (CPs)?
Fibre will also make the broadband market more efficient and competitive. One of the key challenges for small challenging CPs is to manage the high levels of customer complaints and cancellations resulting from slow speeds, line faults and high Openreach Engineering charges. Small CPs are overburdened by such costs as they don’t have the resources nor the clout to recover these costs from Openreach.
Such costs will all but disappear with fibre and help small CPs achieve higher margins to compete more aggressively with the big carriers.