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The UK ramping up next-gen telecommunications


Over the past 18 months, the UK has seen major progress on the telecommunications front. The country recently saw its first commercial 5G network launch and has ramped up FTTH penetration significantly. On top of that, the UK is exploring how to bring more connectivity to rural residents, as many people still do not have access to services from any of the larger telecom providers.

Although the UK still lags behind its European peers, leaders in the domestic telecom space are committed to developing the country’s fiber infrastructure to support future internet-enabled innovations.

The first instances of 5G in the UK

Four different companies in the UK have committed to launching 5G networks this year. EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three are all helping the country lead the 5G charge in Europe.

EE launched its 5G network on May 30th, becoming the first of the early adopters to hit the market. The company focused on the UK’s biggest cities for its release, targeting London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, and Manchester. Before the end of 2020, EE 5G coverage will expand to 20 more cities.

Next, Vodafone will launch 5G networks in seven cities across the country on July 3rd. Over the following six months, 12 more cities are expected to gain access to 5G through Vodafone, which would put the company ahead of EE in terms of the number of active markets.

Three has committed to bringing services to 25 areas before the end of the year. The company advertises that its networks will be unmatched in terms of speed since the company owns more than double the spectrum of the other 5G providers. If executed according to plan, Three will have the widest coverage of the Big Four providers.

O2 was originally going to wait until 2020 to jump into the 5G game. Announcements from competitors pushed up the telecom provider’s timeline. Although still undefined, O2 has stated intentions to launch 5G networks this summer.

By the end of the year, millions of residents in the UK will have access to high-speed broadband delivered through nationwide fiber networks.

FTTH coverage steadily increasing

In less than a year, the UK increased FTTH penetration by 7%, an impressive feat given that the country had almost no FTTH connections in 2017. Data from New Market Panorama released in February 2018 excluded the UK entirely from its report as the country had only 1% FTTH penetration overall.

Since then, investors have poured money into developing the UK’s fiber infrastructure. Overall, fiber is gaining momentum as next-gen technologies, such as smart homes and the IoT, become increasingly relevant for modern businesses and everyday life.

Fiber network developer, openreach, has committed to delivering FTTH services to 15 million homes by 2025. Ireland’s Virgin Media has seen strong growth through its Project Lightning program which aims to bring broadband speeds to 17 million households in the UK and Ireland.

Although 93% of digital communication is still delivered via copper today, the UK now sits in the pack with other European countries that are all investing in their fiber capabilities.

Fiber not going anywhere anytime soon

As a network developer, it’s important to remember that fiber still has a long runway ahead. All over the world, countries continue to build out their fiber infrastructures as technological innovation requires better and faster internet speeds.

Even in highly developed countries, like the UK, there is still ample opportunity for fiber network managers who support commercial deployments. With IQGeo Network Manager Telecom, fiber operators have all of the tools and resources they need to design, troubleshoot, and manage their networks with ease.

To learn more about IQGeo’s fiber network management platform, schedule a demo today.

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Topics: Fiber to the home (FTTH), Telecommunications, Fiber optic networks, Fiber

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