Reading blog takeaways
06 October 2023 | Blog

Connected Britain 2023: Five reflections on UK connectivity

Reading blog takeaways

Internet service providers (ISPs), infrastructure providers, suppliers, government and public sector representatives, and many others recently gathered at Connected Britain to discuss where the UK connectivity sector is headed. Gerry McAuley shares some of his reflections from the event.

1. UK ISPs continue to roll out FTTH but with careful and well-placed investments. 

Connected Britain is one of the biggest connectivity events, with up to 5,000 attendees, over 350 exhibitors, and a larger venue than in previous years. In recent years, Internet Service Providers made fast decisions to roll out connectivity quickly. Today, however, ISPs are adopting a more careful approach. They prioritize their investments’ quality and long-term viability over short-term gains. Conversations now revolve around multi-year plans and interoperability, indicating a more strategic perspective on connectivity.

Connected Britain 2023

2. ISPs need to connect more homes – faster and more cost-efficient.

The event also highlighted the pressing need to connect homes that have fiber infrastructure already in place. The UK has invested significantly in laying down fiber-optic cables, but many homes are yet to be connected to high-speed services. In response, there has been a push to monetize these services, which need higher-quality gateways, particularly those equipped with Wi-Fi 6 technology. In response, we launched the new 2.5GE AX3600 residential gateway – The Aura E650, that allows all connected devices in a home to run at their designated speeds without interruption, providing a great end-user experience. It was well received, particularly the elegant design.

3. Shortening installation time is key to more connected homes. 

Companies offering installation services sought innovative solutions to make installations more time and cost-efficient. We showcased FiberTwist, our fiber termination solution that covers GPON, XGS-PON, Point-to-Point, or optical patch-through options, with one CPE design and do-it-yourself installation by the end-user. It is easy to install and significantly reduces installation times. We had great feedback on the time reduction it provides inside customer premises, which is important to the customer installation experience.

4. We need to manage interoperability challenges sooner rather than later. 

With over 100 ISPs and wholesalers in the UK, interoperability can be challenging. Different service providers and market players are beginning to think about how they work with each other and how their networks can be simplified with mixed OLT and ONT estates. Seamlessly working together has become a priority. We were happy to present Genexis TrueTalk software – embedded on our FiberTwist ONT supporting mixed OLT estates.

5. Wi-Fi 6 remains centre stage and the transition to XGS-PON.

Wi-Fi 6 is top of mind for ISPs due to price, access point availability, and feature capability to support current and medium-term needs. Wi-Fi 7 will take some time to be adopted and has a higher price point. The flexibility to upgrade from GPON to XGS-PON was also discussed. ISPs are looking at solutions to make this transition in a way that minimizes customer disruption and reduces costs.

Gerry McAuley

Overall, the UK connectivity industry is evolving faster than ever. The event highlighted more careful and strategic investments from ISPs, the need to connect more homes to drive revenues and the importance of interoperability to save costs. These are exciting times for the UK market.

Author: Mr. Gerry McAuley