The UK Digital Network Upgrade – Guest blog

Here Richard Hosier, Head of Digital Technology, explains why he thinks the digital upgrade is incredibly exciting!

“In January Openreach ran an event “The UK Digital Upgrade” hosted by Clare Balding. They fully explained their plans for removing the analogue infrastructure and moving to a new digital network. Apparently, this will be the second largest infrastructure project in UK after HS2!

So, what actually changes? Right now, the UK infrastructure is a mix of copper, fibre, undersea cables & mobile networks. This will all be replaced with a digital full fibre optic network where there will be a cable from the exchange to our homes. Fibre Optic is so much better than copper – it’s higher quality, faster, more reliable, less susceptible to the British weather, needs less maintenance, much less likely to go wrong and future proofed. This means less digging up the roads or gardens when things go wrong and it`s 15 x faster than the UK average broadband speed.

What does this actually mean for us and our families at home? Well, I’ll be able to work from home, whilst my daughter is watching Netflix, my son is on his Xbox and my wife is catching up on Pooch Perfect and we will all be able to do this in 8K at the same time, without any buffering or delays.

You could also attend a doctor’s appointment from home, you may need an operation and a specialist surgeon in the US could attend virtually and give advice, but what’s even more exciting is quite simply – the unknown! We just don’t know yet all the new developments that will result from this super quick and reliable digital network.

The event spoke about lots of other benefits to the UK population. They advised, when the upgrade is completed and as rural transformation is a huge part of this, 270,000 people will be free to move out of cities. It could potentially unlock job opportunities for over 500,000 people – especially carers, older workers or parents with younger children who may have found it more difficult to get back to work.

This improved connectivity will not only allow for more homeworking, but over the next 15 years will reduce commuting and save 300m trips, the equivalent of over 23 billion miles, massively reducing emissions.

Yes, but how much extra will this cost me, I hear you ask? The good news is that it’s most likely nothing. OpenReach actually said that the old analogue copper services may end up costing more, as the amount of people on them decreases.

But let’s bring it back to us and our industry. This upgrade WILL affect us (it’s not just us, it’s also traffic lights, lifts, burglar alarms, payment machines etc. too).

I`m sure many of us have more questions than answers. What does it actually mean for our industry, our analogue equipment and our service? What do we need to do first or next? When do we start? How much will it cost?

Yes, it will create hurdles, there are things to solve, plans to make and it will cost more money. But there are also opportunities to save money, to help people become more independent and to add more value to your services and therefore people’s lives.

We would like to support you with your transformation as we’re in it together. If you want to try and understand it a little better or if you want to run a few ideas past someone or a free digital review or get in touch [email protected].