The upcoming switchoff of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will change the way that we make calls, but there’s also another consequence for internet connectivity — the full-fibre rollout. The type of broadband connection a business has can have a major impact on connection reliability, which can impact operational efficiency. Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of business communication services provider Crystaline, examines the different broadband connections offered in the UK, and what they might mean for your business.
Openreach, which runs the UK’s digital telephone and internet network, reported that in 2020 broadband usage more than doubled compared to 2019, due to an increase in remote working, schooling and socialising. With an increased reliance on the internet that looks like it’s here to stay, it’s imperative that businesses secure their internet connection to prevent disruption.
Aging systems, deteriorating quality
Currently there are three ways that a broadband provider might connect your business to the internet, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The oldest system is Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband, which delivers internet connectivity by using the copper wires that form the PSTN telephone line. ADSL coverage is available almost anywhere in the UK, but download speeds are lacking. The average speed is just eleven megabits per second (Mbps), which can lead to slow, troublesome connectivity for businesses.
The next progression in broadband connectivity is known as Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), or Superfast broadband. FTTC offers increased download speeds by using fibre optic cables to connect to the street cabinet from the telephone exchange. Fibre optic cables are much more resilient than their copper alternatives and have a greater capacity to transmit data. However, FTTC is only partly fibre optic enabled, since the connection from the street cabinet to the property still uses copper wires.
The copper network has been in place since the installation of the PSTN back in the 1800s, and degradation on the line means that replacement parts are constantly required, which is damaging its reliability. To tackle this, Openreach is rolling out a fully fibre solution that uses fibre optic cables at every stage of transmission, from the telephone exchange all the way to the end user — Fibre to the Premises, or FTTP, connectivity.
Futureproofed connection with FTTP
FTTP is often referred to as full-fibre and is much faster than ADSL or FTTC broadband since it completely eliminates the reliance on copper wires. In certain locations, FTTP can provide download speeds of up to 900 Mbps, which is over 80 times faster than the speed provided by ADSL.
FTTP will provide a host of benefits for the economy, environment and personal productivity. According to research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the full-fibre rollout could increase national productivity by £59bn, reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tonnes and bring over a million people back into the workforce through remote working.
Openreach is working its way across the UK to provide FTTP connectivity to all and has pledged to offer it to over 25mn homes and businesses by December 2026. Once 75 per cent of an area has an FTTP connection, the copper ADSL network is retired. From April 2022, it will be impossible to purchase a new copper connection, so it’s important that businesses make the switch sooner rather than later to avoid disruption to their business.
Now more than ever, the reliability that FTTP offers is key. Before the start of the pandemic, there were just over 650,000 users on video conferencing platform Zoom, whereas by April, this number had increased to 13mn, according to Ofcom’s Online Nation 2021 report.
Moving to a faster, more reliable broadband connection enables high-speed upload and download for seamless collaboration and improved employee productivity. Users no longer have to worry about their communication system failing, leaving them more time to be productive.
It also allows companies to take advantage of the ever-increasing number of software as a service (SaaS) solutions, which require large amounts of data and cloud storage to run. Crystaline works closely with businesses to create a tailored business broadband system. With managed routers and firewall service options, as well as the option to add disaster recovery services, a FTTP business broadband solution allows employees to thrive and business to grow.
The withdrawal of the copper network coupled with the increasing need for better connectivity is converting businesses to FTTP as a quicker, more reliable solution. Making the move to FTTP now will provide businesses with a robust communication system that is ready for future network upgrades.