Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey data maps out quicker roll-out of faster broadband

Data from UK mapping firm is supporting 15 regional fibre broadband companies to identify target locations for gigabit network

Data from Ordnance Survey (OS) is supporting 15 regional fibre broadband companies across the UK to identify target locations for the roll-out of the gigabit broadband network, as well as planning ongoing maintenance.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the networking arena has seen a significant rise in the number of regional fibre broadband companies entering the market, largely in response to the government’s pledge that everyone in the UK will have access to full-fibre broadband by 2033

OS creates, maintains and distributes detailed location information for the UK, recording and keeping 500 million geospatial features in its master map up to date. It says that during the Covid lockdowns, it has aided broadband suppliers that were called upon to manage extra strain on existing networks, largely because of the bandwidth required for video-conference calls and staying connected across numerous devices.

The OS systems being used by the operators include Address Base, which provides access to Unique Property Reference Numbers to find properties and hubs that require better connectivity, with address-level accuracy on multi-occupancy buildings such as offices and flats. OS Mastermap Topography gives providers access to accurate data about the changing landscape and infrastructure, which will ensure the fibre-optic broadband networks are delivered efficiently and cost-effectively, said OS.

Regional UK companies using OS location data include Freedom Fibre, Jurassic Fibre, Lightspeed Broadband and WightFibre. Founded in the Covid era, Freedom Fibre is installing fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband and using OS data to improve connectivity issues in rural and remote areas, as well as hotspots in densely populated areas. By the end of 2022, it aims to roll out the network to 100,000 subscribers in the North West.

“Understanding the lie of the land from the terrain through to density of housing is fundamental to what we do,” said David Waine, chief technical officer at Freedom Fibre. “OS data provides reliable and accurate location data, which enables us to make smarter and more viable business decisions to ensure we can deliver increased connectivity to our subscribers and guarantee that more premises across the UK have access to fast, reliable and stable connectivity.” 

Another company using OS data is WightFibre, whose goal is to achieve almost universal coverage of the Isle of Wight by the end of 2025. WightFibre’s full-fibre broadband is of a “point-to-point” design, which means every connected home receives its own dedicated fibre-optic connection without the need to share with neighbours, and upload speeds are the same as download speeds.  

The company has already identified more than 70,000 premises using OS data, which it said is the only reliable source of data on premise location and is fundamental to its planning activities.

“Detailed data provided by OS has allowed us to plan efficiently and cost-effectively to maximise the number of premises we can serve,” said WightFibre CEO John Irvine. “WightFibre’s full-fibre network will make the Isle of Wight one of the best-connected places in terms of both speed and the percentage of premises served.” 

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