The capabilities of superfast broadband and 5G will support Northern Ireland’s growth. But Rainbow Communications argues more investment is needed
Northern Ireland has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. Hundreds of exciting independents and SMEs are popping up across many different sectors including design, technology, hospitality, tourism and communications. The rollout of Superfast Broadband and 5G only heightens these opportunities.
When it comes to driving more efficient working, and ultimately growth, connectivity is key.
Companies large and small are increasingly operating via satellite offices or making use of a mobile or flexible workforce. As such, the requirement for seamless access to files, emails, teleconferencing or even simply Google Maps is in more demand than ever. This will only increase as time moves on.
With the imminent end of ISDN in 2020, the development of ‘Cloud’ and SIP trunking has carried on at pace. In the immediate future virtual meetings and remote working will become the norm and landline calls redirected to mobiles will become an essential for any business on the move.
‘The Cloud’ is extending further through our telecoms and IT networks, ultimately placing ever greater demands on our connectivity. Many of you will likely already have specialist network solutions in place, but SMEs continue to struggle. Over 40 per cent of premises in Northern Ireland still don’t receive the most basic broadband speed of 2mbps.
However, with 5G promising speeds of 10-20gbps it may begin to alleviate these connectivity issues. It will offer exciting new opportunities across sectors such as manufacturing, transport and healthcare that can only be realised through innovation and invention. For instance, by allowing more data to be transferred quicker between devices, 5G will enhance the future capabilities of drone, environmental, retail and logistics technologies.
Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, shares the government’s vision to have the UK as a world leader in the delivery of 5G – and it’s facilitating trials ahead of rollout to help achieve this aim.
From our perspective, as suppliers and providers of telecommunications services to over 10,000 customers across Northern Ireland, we know that businesses and private customers alike are looking for faster speeds, greater reliability, more capacity and better responsiveness. From a telecom’s perspective, 5G may solve issues around poor connectivity by delivering superfast broadband wirelessly.
But success depends on significant investment by the networks and backhaul service providers. So we ask CBI members to join us in lobbying government to ensure Northern Ireland businesses are at fore of the continued superfast broadband roll out and the imminent 5G industrial revolution.
There are still areas of Northern Ireland that lack an efficient delivery of 4G and effective broadband services. Parts of counties Fermanagh and Tyrone are still suffering and would require the investment to infrastructure and support systems necessary to allow businesses and private residences to benefit.
With the development of 5G, virtual reality and the ‘Internet of Things’, the next 20 years will be very exciting for the communications industry and for business as it adapts and grows as a result. We just need to position ourselves in the best place to win