Internet connectivity has changed drastically over the past decade, most notably with the rollout of fibre optic broadband, but what do the next 10 years hold?
Whilst the government has committed to providing 95% of UK business and residential premises with superfast broadband by 2017, UK connectivity is still falling behind. Ofcom defines superfast broadband as a connection that provides speeds of at least 24Mbps. Although 95% of the country will potentially be fibre enabled in 3 years’ time, only certain areas will benefit from Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) while other areas essentially only get a half upgrade with Fibre to the Cabinet.
Is this investment in the UK infrastructure as sign of things to come or will government officials advocate cutting costs rather than investing further, and therefore move away from the vision to “have the best superfast broadband network in Europe”?
In the Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future report, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport stated that broadband is one of their top priorities, yet Peter Cochrane, former chief technology officer at BT says the UK is 36th in the world for FTTP.
So how will things change over the next 10 years?
There are a lot of exciting developments going on in the pursuit of ever faster download speeds.
Back in October the BBC reported “UK researchers say they have achieved data transmission speeds of 10Gbit/s via "Li-Fi" - wireless internet connectivity using light.” Li-Fi uses specialised LED bulbs to transmit data in parallel therefore delivering a larger amount of data in a smaller period of time.
Originally developed in 2011 “Prof Harald Haas demonstrated how an LED bulb equipped with signal processing technology could stream a high-definition video to a computer”. Li-Fi is widely praised as a more energy efficient and cheaper alternative to wireless radio systems used today.
Prof Haas also argues that “evenly spaced LED transmitters could provide much more localised and consistent internet connectivity throughout buildings”. Wi-Fi piggybacking could also be a thing of the past as light can’t penetrate walls.
With Wi-Fi coverage often dictating office layouts, could Li-Fi be the answer to reliable and secure connectivity in every corner of the building?
A more recent development was BT’s successful test of a 1.4 terabit per second connection that can send 44 uncompressed HD films per second. Just imagine how many people could be on a high quality video conference with a connection like this. Granted it will be years before this technology is rolled out across the country but the increased capacity will revolutionise business functions, just as cloud computing is now.
As mobile and remote working practices become more common, business use of instant messaging, file sharing and video conferencing will drive the need for a fast and stable internet connection. The current fibre rollout is the top priority for every party involved, and hopefully the development of UK infrastructure will continue to be treated as such.
On completion of the fibre upgrade the focus should shift to business grade internet connections to ensure UK businesses aren’t left behind simply because of their internet line. An upgrade to 1.4Tb per second most likely won’t be available by 2024, but ensuring business premises have Ethernet for the First Mile (EFM) enabled where possible will make a significant difference.
With a dedicated, consistent and highly reliable connection, businesses can achieve greater productivity and cost savings by adopting ‘as a service’ solutions.
Expanding the availability of EFM and raising awareness of leased lines will help organisations prepare for future uses of the internet as well as company growth.