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Broadband: ‘Smart City’ needs smart infrastructure, says communications expert

The city cannot live up to its reputation for innovation and technology unless the ‘Smart City’ lives up to its name with equally smart infrastructure, says Simon Pickering, chief executive of communications specialist dbfb.

“We will come to a grinding halt,” he told an audience of business leaders.

However, the £40 million investment by Vodafone and full fibre network provider CityFibre means that the situation is changing. dbfb invested £2 million in a partnership with CityFibre which would see the roll-out of a ultra-fast fibre network across the city over the next three years.

  • Pictured: Simon Pickering (left) with MKBLP chairman Dr Philip Smith.

Mr Pickering was speaking at a breakfast briefing organised by Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership only two months after a similar meeting heard from BT’s regional partnerships director Giles Ellerton. He had said that Milton Keynes was likely to be among a list of 40 cities to receive government funding towards broadband infrastructure improvements.

Mr Pickering said: “Vodafone and CityFibre are already here… and they are digging. They will be ready for the 2021 deadline.”

Recent research has reported that Keynes the third worst connected city in the UK but the fibre-optic cable network being installed will change all that, delivering lightning fast broadband speed, Mr Pickering said.

“Broadband is a foundation, like building a house, and we need a strong foundation to build our businesses upwards," he added. "Technology is moving at a scary speed and it is critical that we get the foundation right.”

MKBLP chairman Philip Smith said that access to the highest speed of data and full digital connectivity across the city and borough is essential for maintaining Milton Keynes’ prosperity. “It is a high priority for MK Business Leaders Partnership,” he added.

He questioned whether, by 2021, Milton Keynes will be on par with the rest of Europe. Mr Pickering said: “We are future proofing our businesses as we speak. Undoubtedly, technology will change over the next five years but once the network is in the ground we do not need to dig again – we can simply blow more fibre through it.”

“Just 12 months ago we were labelled the third worst connected city in the UK, but I am pleased to say, that is changing. There are a lot of new entrants to the market, which was previously dominated by BT, and now the race is on, which means more speed for a better price.”

dbfb is now a registered supplier of the government’s new Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to help businesses in Milton Keynes and Northampton benefit from ultra-fast full fibre broadband, enabling them to get the necessary infrastructure in place. The vouchers are worth up to £3,000 per business, with no up-front costs.

“Ultimately, we live in a global world and we have to be able to use the global tools available to us. Getting the infrastructure right is absolutely vital to delivering success,” said Mr Pickering. 

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