Panel discussion: the future of network builds

Our Partner Connect 2024 event featured a panel of technical experts from Virgin Media O2, Hyperoptic, TalkTalk and AllPoints Fibre who gathered to discuss the challenges of building and maintaining a national network.

These companies face many challenges in ensuring seamless connectivity and optimal user experiences. From tackling the intricacies of last-mile connectivity to maintaining a robust backbone infrastructure, each aspect demands meticulous planning and execution.

Rob Baynes, Technical Operations Director at Hyperoptic, highlighted the importance of addressing last-mile challenges:

‘The last connection to the building presents significant challenges. It's imperative to ensure optimal capacity to numerous buildings to meet evolving demands.’

Phil Haslam, Chief Technology Officer at TalkTalk, stressed the necessity for interoperability and fault tolerance to deliver seamless services across diverse network architectures:

‘Standardisation serves as the cornerstone for providing a consistent experience for customers and partners across varied network deployments.’

For such standardisation to happen, it is necessary to collaborate with fellow operators, said Steve Colam, Chief Network Officer at AllPoints Fibre. He discussed the challenges inherent in integrating disparate technologies and services into a cohesive network infrastructure.

'Unifying diverse investments into a cohesive network entry approach is pivotal in meeting the evolving expectations of our customers.’

Our own Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, underscored the intricacies of catering to diverse customer segments.

She said: ‘Achieving scale, resiliency, and cost-effectiveness across diverse customer segments necessitates relentless innovation and adaptability to stay ahead of the curve.’

Jeanie remarked on the evolution of optical technology, emphasising its pivotal role in supporting the exponential growth of internet traffic:

‘AI will herald a new era of network optimisation and automation, fundamentally reshaping how we design, deploy, and manage network infrastructure.’

But with AI comes associated challenges. The panelists all recognised the pivotal role of data-driven decision-making and predictive analytics in proactively identifying and mitigating network issues before they impact users, which is another area where AI has a huge role to play.

The panelists highlighted the need for a collaborative approach and strategic investments in AI-driven technologies to ensure the resilience and reliability of network infrastructure.

With the proliferation of IoT devices, bandwidth-hungry games and media, the question is how to pre-empt all these stresses on the network at scale.

For Jeanie, this means moving to more cloud-based network solutions.

‘Optical is getting more converged and more software based. We're on the precipice of some very big scale software evolution. For those of us who've been growing and evolving big monolithic networks for 30 years, it's a big shift to truly being a cloud first organisation. And it starts with baby steps. Networks are a long game.’

Missed our panel session? Watch the full video recording now.

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