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From the field: Fibre internet lead times

Internet speeds are increasing all the time right? Well, things are better than they were but in reality many events are now reaching a ‘tipping point’ of needing as much internet capacity as a medium-sized business, which means they are looking at the investment in fibre optical connections.

Not only are there increases in production internet demands (drop box and other cloud services), but many sites are now required to provide sponsors, bars and ticking partners with internet access. All of this means older systems are creaking and eventually become untenable.

Copper (phone line) based services can only provide a certain speed and reliability, whilst wireless (point to point) links to sites can be flexible, they do carry an amount of risk (though a lot of technology has been developed in this space to improve the challenges of reliability and consistency) with respect to copper based services.  There is also an assumption that there is sufficient capacity within the BT infrastructure [ known commonly as “Spare pairs “ ] to be able to deliver additional temporary capacity.

Our experiences tell us that the locating of spare pairs by Openreach has become much more of a challenge on a daily basis.

Whilst fibre optics can support significantly higher speeds (up to gigabit per second) their primary drawback is installation lead times. Because fibre is a ‘new’ technology deploying it to sites can be very challenging (this is the reason why wireless point to point links are so popular, more about them in our next issue) especially when roads literally need to be dug up to run cables.

Etherlive processes around 200 connectivity orders each year, from phone lines on beaches to fibre optic connections in the middle off Glasgow. The table below is based on our experience:

Location

Install time

Central London

70 working days

Southern town

90 working days

Remote location

110 working days

With the increased internet on site, many events are bringing partners on board to stream content either from the event in general or from the artists.

Things that can be done to reduce timelines:

Get the order in as quickly as possible. In many cases the supplier will allow you to cancel up until a certain point with no penalty; use this to your benefit.

Consider how you may sell the service to others. In many cases event sites are used by others throughout the year; can they use the service for a fee since you are already paying for it?

Look to partners. Companies like Etherlive can be used to sell the service to other events on your behalf even if those events are not in exactly the same place (by using wireless links).

Our next newsletter will address some of the commercial implications of service (for example, should you arrange a service over multiple years since you will be returning to the same location?).  Excess charges (the cost of installation) and how services can be purchased which operate for most of the year at a low speed but ‘burst’ as they are required.

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