Using geographic intelligence to grow the UK’s broadband network
In 2017 the Government announced an £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Challenge Fund to boost commercial investment in networks across the UK. Applications are encouraged for projects to enable gigabit capable connections to key public buildings and businesses, plus encourage additional connections to local homes and businesses.
The overall ambition for this initiative is impressive, with an aim to create a nationwide full fibre network by 2033. With funding available for local authority bids, and by extension, private sector infrastructure projects, interest in boosting local digital infrastructure is high. But how do you create a practical bid for such ambitious goals and ensure that it is within your own capabilities to achieve?
We have been approached by a number of clients, looking to harness this government funding to increase their Local Full Fibre Network. The key challenge each of these clients faces is ensuring that the areas they target for expansion will yield sufficient new users to justify the investment in infrastructure, as a short-term grant will not sustain a poorly planned and under-used network. So how can a local authority or network provider identify areas of potential network growth?
Expanding the existing infrastructure
The first step is in identifying existing infrastructure. The ideal scenario is to start with the existing network mapped into a data file such as a KML file. However, if this isn’t an option, it is possible to estimate the route of the existing fibre infrastructure by mapping postcodes of existing users.
Once we have the existing network mapped, it is relatively easy to mark on radii out from these lines to match the level of investment you are willing to commit – do you want to increase the network by 50 metres or 250 metres away from existing lines for example. Initially we would do this as straight-line “crow fly” distances, to give us a rough target area, before profiling the houses and businesses within that radius to assess propensity to take up the new service.
Sustainable expansion: targeting the right area
The next major challenge is in identifying the potential audience within these target locations. For homes, we can use our own P2 People & Places demographic data to assess likely uptake, but for business customers we need to look further afield. The most cost-effective option is to use the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF) and look at address names to identify potential business customers. However, for a more robust approach, you could invest in Ordnance Survey Point of Interest data (POI) or another specific business data product, which can accurately categorise businesses.
Once all of this data is brought together into a GIS, such as our own Prospex system, you can then assess the viability of extending the Local Full Fibre Network in any given area, identify viable areas that will provide sustainable income, and then craft a grant application using this data to get the project started.
We are enjoying the challenge that these projects provide and look forward to updating you on the real differences that this improved digital infrastructure has on local businesses and communities. If you are considering expanding your infrastructure as part of this, or any other initiative, please get in touch, as we’d love to share our expertise with you.
For full details of the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Challenge Fund, visit the fund guidance page on gov.uk
What is GIS software?
A Geographical Information System (GIS), is a tool for analysing, visualising, managing and presenting data that is related to a physical, geographical location. That link to geography is the key difference between GIS and other data visualisation techniques.
Where is the North
We've used the territory manager tool in Prospex GIS to split the UK into north, south and east and west with equal population counts.
Living Costs and Food Survey
The Living Costs and Food survey (LCF) is compiled every year and is used by the UK and European governments, Department for Transport (DfT), and Her Majesty’s Revenue and the Customs (HMRC). But what is it, and why should we care?
Using geographic intelligence to grow the UK’s broadband network
Using geographic intelligence to sustainably grow the UK’s broadband network.
How far is it to the beach
Using Beacon Dodsworth's scripting technology to showcase demographic and geographic trends.
All you need to know about postcodes but were afraid to ask
The humble postcode has been around for years. We look at how postcodes are used and what led to their introduction.
Social change over 10 years
The next census isn’t due to take place until 2021 so we thought it was a good time to take stock of some of the changes and trends we noticed between the 2001 and the 2011 census. What difference does 10 years make to our society and the people that live within it?
The power of postcode sectors
Postcode sectors are aggregations of individual postcodes and they provide meaningful geographical reporting areas in any GIS. However, they aren't as easy to map as you might think. Here is how we do it.
What is geodemographic profiling?
More than 64 million people live in the UK, each with their own outlook, priorities, needs and way of life. Geodemographic profiling offers a way to group these individuals to try and identify the right audience for your product or service.
How to back up your Prospex data
Keep your GIS projects safe by using the in-built Prospex back up process. Here is how.
Meet the team: Toby
Toby, our Sales Executive, gives a retrospective of his time teaching, and learning about Beacon Dodsworth's GIS solutions.
Household spend on fruit and vegetables
Using GIS mapping to visualise, analyse and present data in a geographical context.
What has the census ever done for us?
How Census 2011 can be used to help organisations with demographic analysis.
Geodemographics and the University of East London
The University of East London explain how they have been using our P² People & Places geodemographic classification.
Mapping GP prescription data
An article by Allan Brimicombe (Head of Centre for Geo-Information Studies at the University of East London) & Pat Mungroo on using GP prescription data to understand health needs.
Postcode to postcode drive time and distance
What happens if we want a postcode to postcode drive time lookup table?
Your continued use of this site is taken as implied consent to receive cookies from us and our analytics partners.