Thoughtful outcomes through experience

Blinded by the light? Exploiting superfast broadband for business

In the digitally re-mastered economy, the demand for network speed, capacity and resilience is heading in only one direction: faster, higher, stronger. But how can businesses exploit the UK's rapidly-developing Superfast Broadband network without breaking the bank?  Peru's Steve Watson offers some helpful hints.

For businesses with a large footprint of distributed locations, for example in the retail and financial services sectors, the need to keep pace with demand is compounded by the challenges of implementing such a large-scale network.

Light at the end of the tunnel

High-speed, low-cost fibre optic broadband, could provide a literal light at the end of the tunnel. Also known as superfast broadband, over a typical five-year period a site using fibre optic broadband could save between £10,000-£20,000 than an equivalent enterprise-level fibre solution such as Ethernet leased lines. Applied that to 1,000 locations and there are some significant savings to be made.

In fact, superfast broadband coverage across the UK targeted to reach 95% by the end of 2017, helped by development from local authorities and other large public sector organisations through the Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) Programme.  Now the scene is set for commercial businesses with large distributed networks to benefit, so long as they avoid some major bear traps when planning the transition.

Don't be kept in the dark

There are three key factors to maximising the Superfast Broadband opportunity:

  1. Getting to grips with your data - The Peru team is surprised by how often organisations lack even the basics - such as a comprehensive list of their locations. This can present a serious barrier to planning a network transition, often resulting in faulty feasibility, scoping and pricing. Howevever, site address details isn't the most useful data. Details of existing voice or data services currently provided to your sites is often a far more accurate way of establishing the availability and potential performance of fibre broadband services.
  2. Getting the contracts right - Before even setting out on a network tender, take stock of the UK market to ensure you've found the best value partner for your business and also the best way to contract them.  Network suppliers are often constrained both technically and commercially in the products they can offer from the likes of Virgin and BT Openreach. Even an integrated service model from a non-telecomms specialist can present challenges that need careful consideration.
    Staying flexible - Because of the rapidly-changing Superfast Broadband marketplace, network contracts and transition programmes need to be future-proofed and flexible. Even if it's not available at the start of the contract, do the terms allow for an upgrade when it does arrive at your door.  Equally, churn in your own sites needs contract agility. New sites and relocations can present a major challenge when it comes to network services, compounded by business pressures to open new locations at short notice.

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Steve Watson is a Principal Consultant at Peru Consulting and specialises in IT Transformation and Commercial Strategy.  He has worked with organisations including British Airways, BT, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Travis Perkins.

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