Philip Lee, head of wholesale at ITS Technology Group, talks about the key aspects of scaling up full fibre connectivity.
The race to universal Gigabit connectivity is on. Is scaling up all about footprint?
Of course, footprint is vital. The pandemic has amplified the importance of high speed connectivity, and this coupled with the copper switch off and data consumption increasing, investment in full fibre delivery is paramount.
Building network in the right places is key. Over the last 18 months, as a business we have increased our network footprint significantly to cover areas across the UK where there is demand for full fibre services. Our wholesale model means that we can provide connectivity both on and off net to our partner community.
Following Aviva’s investment in late 2019, our asset re-use approach has enabled us to build new networks quickly, providing access to gigabit capable connectivity where it is needed most. For example, in London, we started with a concession agreement with London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to use CCTV ducts to rollout fibre, and have now expanded this network across West London, where working with our partners we identified end-user demand for reliable high speed services.
Reliability is key. While footprint is vital, success is reliant on quality of service, customer service and experience.
That makes sense – can you explain further?
For us, it’s all about building trust. When I talk to our partners, it’s about them trusting us to provide a reliable, robust fibre connection that will allow them to deliver reliable, game-changing services over the top. Our mission is to provide wholesale open access connectivity that enables end users to embark on their digital journeys. Often partners will talk about how their customers have not had the quality of service that allows them to really be able to benefit from hosted services. So access to high quality, high speed connectivity that can be relied upon is transformational. It is effectively the foundations of digital transformation. We are also finding increasing demand for fully diverse networks, particularly for mission critical business processes.
At the end of the day, we are full fibre experts. It’s what we do. As such, we support our partners in terms of building awareness around full fibre and educating end users, helping them to understand what the right connectivity products and solutions are for their businesses – whatever their size and budget.
What steps has ITS taken to help educate and build awareness of full fibre?
We launched our Faster Britain initiative in early 2020 as a vehicle to rollout full fibre, but also to help build awareness and educate the market. Of course, rolling out and delivering full fibre is paramount, but sitting behind this is raft of partner support in terms of marketing and communications, which given the pandemic has been even more important and deepened partner relationships as we have worked closely together to navigate the changing circumstances we all found ourselves in – including flexible business terms, support packages, marketing support and product enhancements. Based on market feedback, we introduced an entry level full fibre product for those small businesses who would like a more reliable service but don’t yet require a dedicated connection. We’ve also introduced compelling incentives such as our 15 working day pledge to install on net.
We want to make it as straightforward as possible for partners to be able to sell connectivity to their customers, so we developed from scratch a partner portal and API with full quote, order, and comparison site with self-service roadmap.
To deliver all of this, we really shouldn’t underestimate the skills and labour needed to build full fibre networks and the time this can take.
Yes, this is well documented. How is ITS approaching this?
Getting the right people onboard is fundamental to delivery. From business development to fibre planners and designers, to getting the fibre in the ground and making the installs.
In terms of delivery, we have built national, regional and local relationships to ensure we can meet our targets. At the heart of our delivery is reuse or dig once. Dig Once is a practical way of collaborating between organisations that are working within the highway to help minimise disruption and reduce incremental costs. We also, where possible, look to use existing infrastructure to avoid disruptive civils digs.