How CityFibre is rolling out gigabit-capable broadband to transform and futureproof the North East
One of the biggest lessons from months of national lockdown has been the critical importance of digital connectivity in keeping businesses running. Yes, Zoom fatigue has become a recognisable condition, and the likelihood of returning to office life soon remains slim, but, with quality digital connectivity, many of us can keep busy and productive from the comfort of our own home. For some, however, using apps like Skype and Zoom has been a frustrating experience, with lagging, buffering and dropped connections proving a regular occurrence. This is, sadly, the reality for many citizens across the North East and the UK as a whole, given that just 15 per cent of homes nationwide have access to futureproof full fibre network infrastructure. As the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform, CityFibre is providing a solution by building game-changing networks across the country – including in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Middlesbrough. Powering our ambitions Often when providers mention fibre, they are actually referring to connections that are only partly fibre (known as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet). These usually include some copper wiring for the final stretch to your home, a major factor in lagging and dropped connections. Full fibre is different, with fibre connections used for the entire length of the journey, straight into your home or business. That allows for Gigabit-capable ‘lightning speed’ services and superior reliability. The UK is making real progress in the adoption of full fibre, but, we still lag behind our global neighbours. In 2019, the UK ranked 34th in the worldwide broadband speed table, behind a host of European countries. The average speed in the UK was 22.37Mbps, which compared unfavourably to Sweden – Europe’s top ranked country – which had an average speed of 55.18Mbps. It’s imperative we make up ground especially when you consider how data hungry we are as a nation. In fact, we’re expected to consume more data than any other Western European country over the next four years. The difference full fibre can make Full fibre is revolutionising life in the UK. Only full fibre technology is future proof and will enable you to have the best broadband service available. Full fibre broadband, unlike other broadband alternatives is unique and can make your online life better in three distinct ways. Speed – consistently faster than copper based ADSL broadband or partial fibre optic solutions such as FTTC with speeds currently of up to 900meg but in the coming years even faster with 5gig and even 10gig services on the horizon. Quality – deploying brand new end to end fibre technology means less to go wrong and measurably less faults than other broadband services. Unlike ADSL technology, full fibre broadband is resistant to adverse weather such as flooding. End to end fibre enables direct connection to the exchange so you won’t be sharing your fibre with hundreds of your neighbours so your service is consistent. Symmetrical – download and upload videos (Zoom/Teams) at high quality. The true killer application for full fibre, a unique technology that allows the same gigafast speed weather you are downloading or uploading information. Say goodbye to grainy, blurred or frozen video streams for good! With our ‘new normal’ anticipating over 30% more of us working from home as well the office, widescale full fibre connectivity gives employees the confidence to work from home without worrying about their connection, providing essential quality and ultimate flexibility and reassurance. Those benefits extend further still, with our full fibre network set to underpin the North East’s implementation of Smart City solutions. With full fibre, it’s possible for local authorities to support a range of programmes that make a genuine difference for all citizens. There are plenty of examples across the globe, from digital tech making parking problems a thing of the past in South Korea’s biggest city, smart waste management trucks on New York’s roads or revolutionising the use of public transport in Iceland. In the North East, implementation will be driven by the specific needs of the local population, whether that’s a focus on traffic management, CCTV or something else entirely. What we do know is this will all be powered by full fibre. Adding value to the North East The future isn’t as far away as you may think. Together with our contractors, IQA Elecnor and MAP Group, we have been building across the Newcastle, North Tyneside and Middlesbrough and many residents are already making use of their full fibre connection to great effect. In a period of uncertainty, one thing we know for sure is that quality broadband has never been more valuable – and with full fibre, we can ensure that the North East has the connectivity it needs to emerge from this challenging period in a stronger position than ever before.