Most broadband is currently delivered over the copper cables of the national telephone network, some of which is 140 years old. However, physical limitations of copper cabling limit the bandwidth it can provide, and the distance over which it can carry data. As people choose to access more and more services digitally, this network can struggle to deliver reliably fast speeds for everyone. Fibre optic, on the other hand, uses plastic cables to transmit data via light, allowing it to travel over longer distances and at higher bandwidths than copper. This means fibre optic can deliver internet speeds up to ten times as fast as the existing copper cable broadband networks.
Virgin Media is rolling out ultrafast fibre optic broadband to four million additional households across the UK.
Why is faster broadband important for our community?
Virgin Media’s £3 billion private investment in the country’s digital infrastructure is expected to benefit the UK economy by £8 billion, and will be directly responsible for creating 6,000 new jobs, including 1,000 new apprentices, over the duration of the five-year project.
Health and social care
Faster and more reliable internet will allow for more video-conferencing between doctors, specialists and patients, resulting in faster access to physicians, faster delivery of care and remote diagnostics. These changes will reduce emergency room visits, hospital admission, the need for tests and the costs of long-term prescription drugs, relieving strain on hospitals, healthcare providers and patients.
This increased connectivity will also help families and communities connect to each other and to society, giving vulnerable people better access to their loved ones and carers, vital government services and emergency information.
Faster internet will provide technology in classrooms to improve learning and lower costs by giving children and teachers access to online learning resources like video lectures and e-textbooks. These advantages will extend beyond the classroom with e-learning allowing children and adult students to take courses and qualifications without physical access to a tutor.
The easier access to fast broadband will boost digital literacy across different age, geographic and socio-economic groups, as more people become familiar with skills and technology that are vital in the new digital economy.
Businesses will benefit from greater productivity as fibre technology is combined with other information and communication technology resources to enable more frequent and lower cost communication with suppliers, customers and business partners. This will make it easier for small and medium enterprises to start up and operate in more remote locations, and the increased access to online marketing and media tools will offer more opportunities for companies to grow as they can reach a wider pool of new customers.
Faster, more reliable internet will also enable better and more efficient remote working as teleconferencing and cloud-based services make resources and personnel accessible from anywhere. This will lower travel costs and allow for more flexible work schedules as working from home and while caring for a family becomes more viable.
Home and entertainment
In the home, we are seeing massive growth in internet-enabled devices, multi-tasking across multiple devices, the use of new modes of communication and demand for interactive, high definition video through services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube. This extra demand is putting an increased strain on internet speeds in homes. The ultrafast broadband that a fibre optic network provides is equipped to handle this demand which will be crucial as more households employ numerous devices accessing bandwidth-intense services like 4K video, online gaming, cloud storage and smart home services for heating and security.
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