Author: Colin Henderson, Consultant at FarrPoint
It is widely acknowledged that connectivity infrastructure forms the figurative foundation of the digital economy. As with all foundations, whilst they are of vital importance, it is what’s built on them that brings them to life.
FarrPoint supports clients to plan and lay the foundations for major connectivity infrastructure projects and importantly, advise on how the infrastructure can be utilised to make a digitally enabled difference to communities. Delivering improved digital resources for constituents can be a complex process for any organisation but there are some steps to consider when tackling the challenge. The following example is based on a recent real-life scenario and emphasises that foundations are only the beginning of the journey towards digital operation.
Just as foundations are fundamental to any construction project, digital infrastructure, specifically fibre, is pivotal to the strategic approach to transformation. It drives the economic prospects of towns, cities and regions. Therefore, it is important to ESTABLISH the network design that delivers the best-connected outcome. Whilst, ensuring that infrastructure is located and installed in the right places is desirable, it is not always necessarily deliverable. Investors are looking for economies of scale to make a return and capture future revenue streams. Inevitably there will be areas that don’t work commercially or can be deemed too difficult and time consuming to justify.
Where infrastructure can’t be installed for commercial reasons (and there will be some challenging geographical areas to reach even in the most densely populated cities) we must investigate ways to EXTEND coverage and explore alternative digital infrastructure solutions. Mobile connectivity is increasingly playing an important role and can successfully complement fixed fibre infrastructure. FarrPoint has developed a Mobile Coverage Mapper that accurately measures coverage performance and crucially, helps to identify 4G Not Spots. It is vitally important that Mobile coverage is factored into connectivity infrastructure ambitions, particularly with the rollout of 5G in the near future. By identifying existing 4G Not Spots, it is possible to formulate a plan to infill them using existing public assets and enabling them with fibre. This approach also lays the coverage footprint for potential future 5G deployment.
Once coverage has reached as far and extensively as possible, consideration of how the infrastructure can further ENHANCE the area should be addressed. How can the area be enriched? How does infrastructure coverage add value? How does it make an impact on society from an educational, health, environmental and cultural perspective?
Internet of Things (IoT) solutions should be factored in at this stage, so that specific issues can be monitored and managed. Some interesting use cases to date include the monitoring of flood defences, traffic, water quality, air quality and noise pollution, as well as numerous health & social care examples. All of these solutions require infrastructure and start to form the basis of a Smart City. Also, solutions such as Wi-Fi for public areas can be considered to inform people of local amenities, events and services and encourage footfall into shopping areas (it’s important to remember the target market, not everyone in the community has unlimited mobile data plans!).
Finally, the next step is to execute the Digital Strategy Plan and ENABLE the infrastructure so that it delivers transformation through digitising public services to improve delivery of services securely and cost-effectively whilst managing ever restricted budgets. This then creates the stimulus and environment for inward investment and economic growth, delivers education opportunities that our young people deserve, and makes health and social care integration a reality by enabling people to be cared for and monitored in their homes.
It is only by ensuring coverage has been extended as far and as widely as possible, additional value has been created and enhancements have been factored in, that the full potential can be realised. Foundations may be key but it’s only by using it that possibilities can be unlocked.
If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming or ongoing connectivity infrastructure projects, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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