The Six Most Relevant Broadband Plan Success Factors

If there™s one thing the pandemic has made us realise, it™s that a fast, reliable internet connection is now more critical than ever. Wherever we are today, we all need continuous access to a network we can depend upon. The demand for superfast internet is there like never before. 

And in general, most people have indeed been receiving excellent service without spending more for it. However, we™re also aware that rural areas are getting left behind. In some regions, there™s no internet access, while urban areas get boosted with faster and faster speeds. So, as the world works to upgrade broadband plans for the future, what are the most relevant factors for success? What do we need to do most? Let™s take a look at this:


1. Minimising disruption and working with the public

Everyone agrees that having faster internet is a good idea. But how quickly should we move forward? It™s not enough to march ahead without planning what will happen and when. Homeowners and businesses need to know what will occur, when, and how it will affect them.

Many broadband rollouts in the past needed to think appropriately about the needs of their customers, geographical obstacles, or even network architecture needs. For example, why direct all your broadband resources to a business area when a nearby rural area needs plenty of investment? Why dig up a whole street again for a marginally more speedy upgrade?

Power cuts, road closures, and even existing internet connections going temporarily offline, among other disruptions, are all an inherent part of broadband plan rollouts. They™re going to happen. But you can minimise the pain of these disruptions. How? Well, by consulting with the people it will affect. Letting people know about planned interruptions ahead of time will allow them to plan around them. For example, if people know there will be a power outage or a disruption in service as you connect up a new line, they can prepare for it. 


2. Dealing with rights of way and acquiring land

Lots of land needs to be used when it comes to the mass installation of any new amenity. For a broadband plan, not only will you need to install towers, but you will also need to lay cables in the ground. However, before you can touch the footpaths and roads, you™ll need to get permission. Getting the rights of way and acquiring the land you need to install a new broadband plan is often one of the biggest problems people face when deploying a new broadband rollout program. This is because so many people overlook it and don™t factor in the time waiting for permission can take. You may assume that if the government sponsors a broadband rollout program, it would also fast-track land permissions. However, this is not true.


3. Finding a range of skilled workers

Installing internet infrastructure is a niche skill. People must train with knowledge of specific tools, and companies must plan ahead in finding and recruiting these people. If you™re not careful, technology will move on again before you finish your rollout! For example, fibre technician shortages are a common problem in network rollouts. Importing workers with all the proper skills is often difficult, whether due to immigration controls or differences in broadband and electricity infrastructure.

Training of workers and figuring out which kind of workers you need should happen before the network rollout begins. This way, you can get started quickly. The installation of broadband overlaps with so many other sectors. You need skilled network engineers and people with construction knowledge who can fit the cabling on everything from high-rise buildings to the most old-fashioned bungalows without disrupting their aesthetics. You™ll need all these people in place before anything even begins.


4. Calculating existing material reuse and what needs upgrading

We all know that technology is changing at a blistering pace. What was commonplace and cutting-edge just a few years ago is now often wholly obsolete. For example, many people still have sockets and cabling for dial-up around their houses, even though the world quickly switched to the wireless broadband. This method of getting online was quite an investment for many people to commit to, only for this infrastructure to immediately become outdated and never get reused.

What will happen on a larger scale if this occurs on a personal level? Suppose we don™t plan our broadband rollouts properly. In that case, we risk installing the equivalent of dial-up worldwide, only for technology to quickly move on to a faster, more reliable form of internet that requires ripping out everything we just installed again. We need to look at all the facts and calculate how quickly things will change before we give ourselves the go-ahead to install the fastest possible fibre cabling everywhere. If not, we risk a significant wasted investment.


5. Figuring out demand and allowing for changes

How do you know whether people want fibre broadband? You have people fill out survey after survey on what they use their internet connection for, what they™d like to use their internet connection for, what kind of speeds they would like, and how many people in the area would want to get online. For example, you may publish targets, like connecting up 13 million premises within 10 years. But it™s okay for things to change over time. As you roll out your broadband plan, new streets may exist, or people may move. Even how everyone works might alter to the extent that you now have to direct more resources towards homes rather than businesses. Thus, your goals change.

One example of demand and targets changing over time is the UK-wide company BT™s superfast broadband goals. In the beginning, BT aimed to spend £1.5 billion on making superfast broadband services - so-called Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Home (FTTH). This rollout would have made BT™s speedy 330Mbps service available to 40% of the UK by 2012

However, as broadband technology changed and uses for the internet moved on, BT moved the goalposts. The target became a £2.5 billion investment, with the coverage goal upgraded to 66% of the United Kingdom by 2014. What™s more, the speed was actually downgraded to 80Mbps! This reflects a changing usage case and partial reuse of existing infrastructure. 


6. Dealing with existing networks

Most countries have an existing internet network. So, plenty of existing infrastructure is already in place. That means sometimes, we are merely upgrading this existing network. However, at other times, we create a new branch of the broadband network. Should we roll out a pure fibre network or harness some existing technologies and materials with a mixed-technology broadband solution? 

A mixed technology solution can be a good idea if the existing infrastructure is in sufficiently good condition. With hybrid technology, you can spend less but still have a reasonably fast network that will last until the next extensive technological overhaul. However, if you want the best possible speeds, you must opt for a pure fibre rollout.

Combining both, reusing materials and replacing them with pure fibre is the best bet for most NBN companies, depending on different areas™ needs. A mixed-technology broadband rollout will require an in-depth network asset audit, which can take some time, while a pure fibre rollout can be the faster option.

As you can see, broadband plan rollouts have the potential to become complicated. You want everyone to get the best speed possible, but you must also work with existing network infrastructure and technological limitations. It can be tough to figure out the right way forward, but with careful planning at every stage, you™ll produce a broadband plan that will work perfectly for years to come. 


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