The networks behind industry 4.0 enabling Britain’s digital future

Connectivity solutions have come on in leaps and bounds in recent decades, fuelling a digital revolution and transforming the way we work. The technology which powers this has likewise changed significantly, demanding new network infrastructure and architecture to support it.

Just consider Ethernet. It’s one of the most common types of connectivity in the UK, offering a synchronous, high bandwidth, low latency service that’s highly reliable. With a variety of access options from Point-to-Point, Point-to-Multipoint (E-Line) or VPLS (E-LAN) connectivity, it’s a diverse choice that can benefit a range of businesses.

SSE Enterprise Telecoms has always been highly committed to providing quality connectivity solutions for service providers and enterprises across the UK. Over the years, we have invested heavily in our own network, allowing us to continually broaden and improve our service offering.

But it was clear the issue of Ethernet availability was one that needed to be tackled. And the route to providing the most extensive, best-value service lay in utilising the strengths and capabilities of providers around the country. So, we set about delivering a plan to provide high speed, low latency services to our business customers. The result is Project Edge.

The history of Project Edge

After the initial planning phase, Project Edge began in earnest in 2013, when we unbundled over 54 BT exchanges across the UK. The first phase of Project Edge provided Ethernet access to customers in an additional 200,000 business postcodes.

The following year, the launch of Edge Plus saw us working with key service providers – such as BT Wholesale, BT Openreach, Virgin Media Business, Talk Talk Business, Vodafone, Colt, Sky and most recently, CityFibre – to enable SSE Enterprise Telecoms to connect any UK postcode in a cost-effective way. As part of this, we launched our online quoting and ordering portal, LIVEQUOTE. This price comparison tool allows customers to generate their own Ethernet quotes, comparing all major connectivity providers to find the best value, and most specification compliant solution. By integrating our network with other leading providers, we were able to work together to deliver maximum network coverage.

But that wasn’t the end. The first stages of Project Edge revealed a significant appetite for Ethernet connectivity, driving our plans even further. And in 2016, we deployed Edge 2. This included the addition of 33 BT exchanges to our existing 12,000+km UK-wide fibre network. As a result, we were able to facilitate access for another 50,000 prime city centre business postcodes within the UK.

The future of Edge

In 2018, we announced plans to further expand our network reach by unbundling an additional 177 BT exchanges. In doing so, we plan to futureproof our offering with a network capable of delivering up to 100Gbps NNI (network to network interface) as well as 10Gbps Ethernet services that can be ordered in multiples instantaneously from our online portal, LIVEQUOTE. Our high capacity core network and backhaul will empower businesses to scale up their capacity and reach across the UK, all with a provider that has delivered for many years. As a response to the significant growth in demand for high-capacity connectivity, the latest stage in SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ UK network investment – dubbed Edge 3 – is expected to double our network reach, unlocking Ethernet access for a further 180,000 business postcodes across the UK.

Edge 3, SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ most significant network investment to date, is affording customers the ability to tap into new locations and serve of their own end customers. The network boasts higher capacity and bandwidth speeds than ever before.

What’s causing the increase in capacity demand?

The need for Britain’s underlying networks to perform better is born out of an exponential surge in demand for data in the UK, in addition to the enablement of industry 4.0 technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G-enabled devices and Artificial Intelligence.

Customers are already benefitting from the latest Edge 3 programme network enhancements. With SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ partner, Three UK, already announcing timescales for the betterment of their 4G services and 5G network availability across the UK – something that’s key for Mobile Network Operators to stay relevant in 2019 and beyond. This comes as a result of the innovative, secure and robust aggregation of fronthaul and backhaul access needed for greater resiliency, capacity and latency reduction.

SSE Enterprise Telecoms is committed to driving the innovation that the UK needs to enjoy ubiquitous high-speed connectivity. This is crucial for UK enterprises and service providers to compete on a global stage – and our investment won’t stop here. The coming year will be an exciting time for Project Edge. Its full roll-out is expected to take place over the next 18 months in batches, increasing our network reach by a further 132% once completed. With the first batch of 51 exchanges already on net and available to quote on LIVEQUOTE, this puts SSE Enterprise Telecoms in a strong position to complete the programme by 2020. The full list of SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ exchange locations can be found here.

Understand more about how Edge 3 is SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ most significant network investment to date.

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