Staying Connected… a C word for good

In our latest blog, Haley Pearce, account director discusses (and demystifies) the broadband infrastructure that is keeping everyone connected virtually during these challenging times.

As the country continues to stay at home, to protect the NHS from the impact of COVID-19 and save lives, isolation and working from home is something that we’re having to adapt to for the foreseeable future.

And with it, comes the very important subject of how do we stay connected to work colleagues, loved ones and communities throughout this?

Thank goodness for WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Slack, Teams and many others, for keeping us virtually connected.

We have, until now, perhaps taken for granted the technology that is an extension of our existence – the devices we can’t live without.

Smartphones are often cited as the cause of so many problems in our lives – the increase in loneliness and ironically the disconnection of our society.

But now they are the lifeblood of our society and relationships, at work and at home, ensuring that we stay connected, productive, and as happy as we can be during this unprecedented time in our history.

So, what infrastructure supports this technology to make it possible for us to connect so easily with teams at work or friendship groups?

Behind the scenes there have been some major advances in the broadband infrastructure with Vodafone one of the technology suppliers that (in partnership with City Fibre) is leading the way. In many cities already its Vodafone Gigafast Broadband services are up and running, and later in the year they will be partnering with Openreach to deliver this service to more cities, transforming the networks across the UK.

But there’s still much consumer confusion about broadband.

  • Do I have full fibre?
  • What is full fibre?
  • How fast is fast?
  • How do I know if I get the speeds I pay for?
  • How would I know what my internet speed is?
  • How do I know when I am out of contract?

All questions we have been helping to demystify whilst working with Vodafone Gigafast Broadband over the past 18 months.

We have been out educating and exciting customers around the UK through various experiential activations, on the difference between “fibre to the home” and “fibre to the cabinet” and what impact that can have on your broadband speeds. If you have fibre to the home (FTTP/FTTH), then you have a full fibre service. If you have fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), then you have copper (old infrastructure) from the cabinet to the door.

Most suppliers will quote your package as “up to” speeds but this doesn’t nessecarily mean that you will get the speed you are paying for, all of the time.

A good analogy is that of a car – the car you buy has certain capabilities but the speed is determined by the road you drive on, your style of driving and the amount of traffic on that road, not solely the car itself. And, if you have a copper line (FFTC) then this is the equivalent of adding a whole load of rush hour traffic to your road. It will slow down your speed during busier periods, no matter what the car and how your drive. Full-fibre broadband, like Vodafone Gigafast Broadband, frees you from this traffic! To extend the analogy, it’s like giving every single person their very own unlimited motorway – no more traffic!

So, what can you do to ensure that you have the best solution available to you (e.g. road and car) for your needs? The first thing you can do is check your broadband speed – this is the speed that is currently available to your household. If you have a copper line (fibre to the cabinet), this will fluctuate throughout the day depending on how many people are drawing on it (driving on the road).

There are plenty of websites that will help you with this. Just search “Broadband Speed Checker”. And from there you will have a better idea of what steps you can take to optimise this for your needs… and what questions to be asking of your supplier.

Uswitch will provide you with independent guidance on the best broadband deals available to you through a simple postcode search. It may be that you don’t have a choice but to stay with your current solution, so then you might need to look at ways to boost your Wi-Fi.

As we navigate this uncertain time, staying connected to our teams at work, our friends and family, and our local community is key. Here are some ideas you might consider to stay connected at this time:

  1. Have virtual daily team and extended family huddles.
  2. Make a regular date for a virtual coffee break with your team and friends.
  3. Plan a virtual workout with a friend.
  4. Connect with your community – set up a instant messaging group with your street. Help isolated people in your neighborhood by agreeing to call them at a fixed time each day.
  5. Connect with yourself – set your timer and commit to 5 minutes headspace a day. Take a few deep breaths away from the connected world.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay connected.

Take a look at Vodafone’s news centre for lots of topical pieces during these challenging times.