Students list future challenges for ISPs

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This year ASK4 sponsored HackSheffield to support budding tech talent in our home city.

At the event, we asked the students taking part what they saw as some of the challenges ISPs will face in the coming years. There were a number of interesting responses around speed, bandwidth, infrastructure and 5G, so we thought we would respond directly here.

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Speed and bandwidth

Perceived challenges for ISPs:

  • Trying to keep the speed for downloading and uploading data fast or even faster despite the huge amounts of data that is currently transmitted through the internet and the increasing number of internet users.

  • Increased people on wifi networks, decreasing speed. Also people expecting higher speeds as more things become automated.

  • Faster speeds to load large amounts of data.

  • Streaming 4k+ quality sports and programs, this could take up a huge amount of bandwidth which maybe current infrastructure is not ready for.

  • Increasing demands particularly for higher speeds as technology is developing and many more powerful hardware needs higher speeds. Also potentially increased costs as faster services mean more expensive resources are required.

  • Working with existing infrastructure (copper wire) when people need faster speeds.

  • Being able to keep up with the reliability needed to support the increasing number of IoT devices in consumer's homes.

These responses highlight a concern over increasing demand and an increasing dependency on Internet (and more particularly wireless) connectivity. Can existing infrastructure cope? Can it deliver the level of service required for users to successfully and reliably integrate smart devices within their homes and download or stream HD content?

For private home owners in the UK, the answer to these questions will largely vary depending on postcode. As recent reports suggest, the UK is now lagging behind on global average speeds and FTTP (fibre to the premises) infrastructure upgrades.*

However, within the context of multi-tenant buildings, like purpose built student accommodation (PBSA), the picture is very different. These buildings a typically supplied by a specialist ISP, like ASK4, with a dedicated fibre line to the building (FTTB). The capacity of the fibre line could be 1, 5 or even 10Gb/s, depending on Internet package speeds being offered and the number of residents. This means that while the average download speed for UK homes is currently reported to be 18.57Mb/s, ASK4 connected users are currently enjoying base speeds of 100Mb/s, with some accessing premium package speeds of 1Gb/s.*

The challenge ISPs face within multi-tenant buildings is distributing and managing the available bandwidth and wireless network to ensure all residents experience a reliable, consistent wireless service, even at peak times. There are a host of factors that can influence a wireless service, such as the limitations of a user’s own device, and environmental factors that impact signal strength like physical barriers (walls, doors, furniture), other electrical devices (like TVs, microwaves, printers) and competing wireless networks.

A fully managed service from ASK4 is designed to mitigate all such factors with meticulously planned wireless environments optimised for each unique building, delivered using best-in-class infrastructure.

The ASK4 service is also backed by our own high-capacity, highly available optical network, optimised for the unique requirements of today’s 18-30 year olds, including content caches from leading content providers (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV) to ensure the very best possible viewing experience all of the time.

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Infrastructure

Perceived challenge for ISPs:

  • Upgrading infrastructure when new technologies become available.

As suggested in the conversation on speed and bandwidth, the service delivered to multi-tenant buildings by ISPs like ASK4 is designed to future proof the requirements of a building’s residents and building operators. That includes the ability to scale capacity to be able to support and integrate the smart devices, services and systems that are becoming increasingly common in both the purpose built student accommodation and build-to-rent sectors.

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5G Technology

Perceived challenge for ISPs:

  • Competing with 5G technology which has the potential to be faster and cheaper than fixed line broadband.

5G is the next generation of mobile data technology. It promises to offer consumers much faster speeds than 4G but just how much faster this might be in the real world is uncertain. Some reports suggest 5G and 5G compatible devices could be available in the UK by 2020, but there is also likely to be a phased roll out, with major cities gaining access first, as with 4G.

5G technology is significant because it will have much greater capacity, meaning it can handle the increasing demand for mobile connectivity from the host of ‘smart’ devices and systems currently available and in development. Its ability to supplement or replace fixed line Internet services, in a variety of contexts and use cases, is as yet unknown. However, 5G is certainly an exciting technology that could open up some interesting new ways of delivering Internet connectivity to consumers over the next 5 years. Our tech team will continue to monitor its progress and consider any potential opportunities for multi-tenant buildings.

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References:

  • https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/10/uk-slips-to-35th-in-global-table-of-broadband-speeds

  • Some ASK4 connected users also access base and upgrade speeds of 200Mb/s, 250Mb/s and 300Mb/s.

  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46127712

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