One positive outcome from the pandemic is the digital transformation that has advanced 5 years in 12 months, as technology became the enabler for businesses and families to communicate.
Digital advancement was already moving at an incredible pace and, for years, network development has been a continuous evolution. The latest phase of network investment by Sure will, however, surpass anything we’ve seen before.
Preparations for the latest upgrade were already underway before the pandemic and the £3million investment programme, the most significant to date, will see a phenomenal increase in core network capacity, resilience and security.
“This is more than just a run-of-the-mill upgrade” says Justin Bellinger, CEO of Sure Guernsey; “it’s a massive step change to next--generation networking that begins at the core and will ultimately reach every household, family and business on the island.”
Sure has been providing communication solutions in the Bailiwick for 125 years and its network is formally recognised as critical national infrastructure – much like your water or electricity supply. Global connectivity is something we take for granted nowadays, but behind the scenes there is an incredible amount of planning, management, and effort to ensure we all remain best connected and secure.
The deep-sea cables connecting the Bailiwick to the UK, France and the world already provide diverse routes and scalable infrastructure to deal with incidents and spikes in traffic, but this latest upgrade sees step change in capacity and performance.
For the technically minded, existing cables that previously had 10 gigabits (Gb) of capacity (the norm for all other providers) are each being upgraded to 100Gb, a 10-fold increase in performance.
Justin continues; “I always describe the network as the island’s plumbing and, quite simply, the fatter the pipe, the more you can get down it. But what we are doing currently transcends anything that’s ever been done before. We’re in the final stages of confirming plans to completely change how households are connected and introduce speeds that will run literally at the speed of light!”
Geographically, Guernsey benefits from a very strategic location, and Sure’s network is part of the transatlantic and global internet communications system, the backbone of the world’s internet.
Multiple diverse connections between the islands, the UK and Europe are very important because occasionally a ship’s trailing anchor will snag, drag and snap a communications cable. Having multiple cables mitigates against a risk of an outage occurring on what is critical national infrastructure.
“When a break in the under-sea cables does occur, it’s quite something to deal with,” says Justin; “specialist ships with mini submarines are required to locate the undersea break, use lifting gear to raise the two broken cable ends and repair the damage, often in high seas and difficult conditions.”
Sure’s focus is not solely on global business though, and the pandemic has highlighted the need to focus on a more inclusive world where everyone can have access to online services.
“We’ve been delighted to support pan island initiatives to help vulnerable and less fortunate families connect to online services,” says Justin. “Giving back to the community in times like these is crucial. Education initiatives and charitable community foundation programmes have worked to deliver connectivity and access to online education. While the world is in a brief pause due to the pandemic, our next generation’s future is not.”
The workplace transformation to a more hybrid environment with a blend of people working from the office, home or other locations will continue long after the pandemic and whilst we don’t have quite the same commuting, travel and traffic challenges of the mainland, it’s really not that different.
Work/life balance is just as important, cloud-based working and the accessing and streaming of services and content are just the same - as are the threats from cybercrime. We are all having to ‘up our game’ as we rapidly evolve to a more digitised society.
Concludes Justin; “When people tell me they don’t really understand technology or the concept of cloud computing, I ask them about using Google, Microsoft Office, eBay, Netflix, or the BBC iPlayer. It tends to make sense then as everything links together, from network connectivity, cloud, security, and unified communications, where we join video calls and instantly message people from our devices without a second thought. I’m delighted with the way our portfolio has evolved in recent years to provide the services businesses need to thrive in the knowledge economy.
“I’m well aware that at the end of the day it’s not about the technology, it’s about what technology does. With our current core network upgrade and an imminent change to our network speeds, the future of digital services across our islands is bright.
“I’d encourage any business owner to contact us to find out how we can help them thrive in this ever-evolving digital world.”
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