How the evolution of UK’s superfast network affects you
Gemma Maroney, Marketing Manager of Solution IP, blogs for IoTUK about how as the world becomes increasingly connected, digital communications play ever more important roles in daily life, from businesses that rely on superfast broadband to the mobile networks that keep us connected while on the move.
The UK’s digital infrastructure is vital to the integrity of our personal and professional lives, so what’s made the UK so connected, and what does the future hold for superfast broadband?
How does a superfast broadband network affect you?
The UK’s network is expanding in speed and in coverage, and the combination of these factors helps to make superfast broadband a widespread, high-speed fact of life. Many things that were unthinkable only a decade ago are now commonplace thanks to huge increases in bandwidth, and each new breakthrough demands ever-faster internet speeds to transform them from innovative experiments into everyday wonders.
The speed of 4G internet has allowed people to browse seamlessly from their phones, which has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life – in this way, advances in internet technology have directly shaped our day-to-day lives.
Superfast broadband is driving IoT innovation
The UK as a whole is almost entirely connected to superfast broadband, but there are spots where high-speed connections are nearly universal; in Bristol, for example, 97.2% of properties have access to superfast broadband, thanks in part to the city’s 2015 award of €25 million as part of the EU’s Smart Cities and Communities initiative.
Bristol is also acting as a testbed for the next generation of IoT technology through the ‘Bristol is Open’ project, where a vast web of superfast internet connections has been constructed to provide designers with a real-life city in which to develop their IoT services.
Bristol is Open includes an ‘IoT mesh’ constructed of 1,500 access points mounted on street lamps which allows IoT developers to test and refine programmes that will become part of the smart cities of the future, feeding real-time information on traffic flow, air quality and weather (and much more) to a central data processing point.
Bristol isn’t alone in exploiting new technology to benefit citizens, as many councils around the country find ways to employ superfast broadband to make their towns safer, cleaner and happier. For example, Peterborough is now installing high-definition CCTV cameras that take advantage of pure fibre connections with near-unlimited bandwidth to improve the effectiveness of security and traffic systems, delivering images in real time and with great detail.
Superfast is getting faster
Although superfast broadband is available in every city in the UK, the average uptake of these services varies from place to place; in the most bandwidth-hungry cities, average broadband speeds are more than 30 Mbps, a staggeringly high average considering that a large proportion of the population have not invested in superfast broadband.
However, there are some cities where superfast isn’t fast enough; several ‘Gigabit Cities’ around the UK have been created, with infrastructure to provide pure fibre-optic connections and speeds in excess of 10Gbps, and in Bristol, businesses are taking advantage of hyperfast broadband speeds to improve productivity through cloud hosting and flexible working, high-quality video conferencing and light speed connectivity with business partners around the globe.
Superfast coverage is increasing
It’s not only cities that are benefiting from superfast broadband, as the whole country is coming online: more than 90% of households in the UK now have access to high-speed internet connections, thanks to the government’s Broadband Delivery UK scheme, and this is set to rise to 95% by the end of 2017.
Access to superfast internet in these areas allows residents to experience the benefits of modern technology, such as providing access to real-time virtual reality streams of surgical operations for medical students. The lack of fast and reliable internet has typically been a barrier to firms who would otherwise be tempted to set up shop in a small town or village, and the new availability of superfast broadband has helped to bring businesses out of the cities and into the countryside.
The future is bright for broadband
It’s clear that the UK has already created a world-leading superfast network, and continued investment will improve both speeds and availability in the coming years. High-speed internet is a necessity for millions of businesses and individuals, and the increasing pace of innovation and investment looks set to place superfast broadband even more centrally in our lives in the years to come.