The growth of full-fibre networks in the UK

With the growth of technology – and the modern world’s increasing reliance upon it – it seems like having a strong, fast internet connection has quickly become a necessity. Most households have multiple devices that require an internet connection, a standard family of four could have between them 4 smartphones, 2 laptops, 2 tablets, a smart TV and a games console, all vying for bandwidth.

All of the above need an internet connection to use social media, stream on Netflix, game online or shop online. Add into the mix virtual assistants such as Google nest or Alexa, a Sonos sound system and a Ring doorbell and the internet becomes a valuable commodity.

In 2020, the total amount of data created and consumed in the world was 59 zettabytes (ZB). That is the equivalent of 59 trillion gigabytes! This is predicted to reach a 175ZB by 2025. So much data! To put that in perspective, streaming on Netflix for one hour in high quality will only use about 3 gigabytes of data…

So, how does an internet connection actually find its way to your home or office, and what makes a ‘fibre’ network?

In the beginning

When broadband was emerging as standard practice in UK homes and offices, data was being transferred through copper wiring. Miles and miles of these copper wires are housed under the roads and pavements that we use every day. Having originally been laid for the UK’s telephone network, some of the wiring was placed in the ground over a century ago.

The first UK home broadband was installed in 2000, the lucky Mark Bush was Virgin Media’s first and only broadband customer at the time. This was the start of the ‘always on’ internet service. Fast forward over 20 years to the current day, there are now over 62 million monthly internet users a month in the UK, only a few million away from the 67.5 million UK population!

The UK now has multiple companies supplying internet services across the length and breadth of the UK. BT are the UK’s largest in terms of customer base with 9.3 million customers across the UK (BT owns Plusnet and EE). Sky Broadband has an estimated 6.2 million customers, Virgin Media just over 5.4 million and TalkTalk caters for 4.2 million customers.

With many workplaces forced to work from home during the pandemic, hybrid working seems to have become more commonplace. Working from home more and more has only cemented the need for stronger internet, it is, therefore, no surprise that fibre networks have been rolling out across the UK.

What is fibre broadband?

Copper wire does the job, it transfers data, but downloads max out at 80 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads can only hit 20 Mbps. A full-fibre connection can allow for speeds of nearly 1 gigabit per second! For major provider BT, this is 25x faster than their standard fibre packages.

Fibre broadband is available to over 96% of the UK, meaning that superfast broadband is likely to be an option for your home, if not now then very soon. However, fibre broadband and full-fibre broadband are, despite sounding very similar, two different offers. Fibre broadband means the connection is made up of a mix between the existing copper cables and the new fibre-optic cables. The fibre-optic cables take the connection to your nearest internet street cabinet, but from there it makes its way to your house via the copper cables.

Unlike fibre broadband, full fibre is much more niche, with only around a quarter of UK homes being eligible for this. Full fibre doesn’t use any copper cables, the connection to your house from the street cabinet is also carried along these new fibre-optic cables. Full fibre broadband is the gateway to nearly 1 gigabit per second internet speeds, making light work of things like online gaming and streaming 4k resolution films.

The UK Government is keen on gigabit internet for all and has put in place targets for making this happen across the nation, calling it ‘Project Gigabit’. The UK Government want to deliver nationwide gigabit broadband to at least 85% of UK houses by 2025.

How does Bailey Products fit in?

Seeing that the average UK user spends just over 4 hours on the internet and there are over 46 million daily users, it is no wonder that the UK is focussing on upgrading to full-fibre everywhere.

At Bailey Products we supply the rods which facilitate the installation of these new fibre-optic cables. Last year alone Bailey Products supplied 381,946 meters of our duct rods to Openreach, facilitating the company’s continued progress and enabling it to connect six million homes and businesses to its full-fibre network.

All Bailey Products rods are made to exacting standards, specifically for the installation of cabling. We are proud to partner with Openreach but we also provide equipment to the distributors that supply the contractors in the Telecoms sector. Our aim is that by the end of 2022 fibre-optic cables being laid by the likes of CityFibre, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and Community Fibre will be installed using Bailey rods. To learn more about our duct rods or to speak to one of our experts get in touch today.