Informed planning is key to connecting Britain on FTTH and 5G: Gaist


The key to rapid nationwide fibre deployment happens before a fibre cable is even laid – and this early insight will be critical to the cost-effective roll-out of Fibre to the home (FTTH) and 5G mobile, Gaist CEO Steve Birdsall said.

Speaking on the opening day of Connected Britain, Birdsall highlighted that for network operators to successfully roll out ultra-fast and reliable broadband, a detailed knowledge of the type, condition, and existing assets of the UK’s roads and paths is crucial.

According to Birdsall, mapping this in advance of any installation work allows network providers to create accurate business cases and budgets, and to make informed decisions that reduce the risk of unexpected delays and additional costs, time and disruption.

“The key issue at the moment is that laying fibre-optic cables is not a straightforward task, knowledge is power and knowing the existing condition of the working environment can be the difference between a project staying on-budget and on programme or not,” said Birdsall. “Delays experienced on-site due to unforeseen problems are hugely costly and can delay projects and sometimes affect readiness for future fibre deployments, as the company is held back by budget constraint.”

Early insight into the condition of the roads, continued Birdsall, will become even more important as UK operators work to meet full-fibre targets and deploy 5G networks.

“The next generation of mobile connectivity, 5G, is set to be a true game-changer – but that requires a much denser network infrastructure than we currently have,” he added. “This means more work to install fibre will need to take place, and as the volume increases, it is going to become extremely important for everyone involved to do all they can to keep the costs of the project to a minimum and protect companies’ reputations.”

Birdsall went on to highlight how Gaist’s innovative highways survey and mapping technology and analysis provides a solution to this challenge, helping operators to plan networks cost-effectively, pre-warning them of problems and providing significant savings through improving installation times, reducing variations and minimising disruption to the road network.

“Our solutions are able to support faster fibre rollout across the UK as our technology allows providers to get it right first time,” he said. “Our technology can provide a 10 per cent efficiency output at 0.01 per cent of the project cost as before you even step foot on-site, you know the exact condition of the area you’re working in and you know what to expect.”

Gaist’s unique infrastructure digital twin covers nearly 350,000 kilometres of the UK’s roads and pathways. With more than a billion high-definition images, the technology creates a complete and precise view of the highway network that allows network and utility providers to minimise the risk of unexpected set-backs.

“Fibre rollout is no easy task but Gaist can provide the technology needed to minimise unnecessary difficulties,” concluded Birdsall. “We are revolutionising the way that network providers plan the route of fibre networks and achieve tangible cost savings.”

Gaist is a highways surveying and mobile mapping company that uses digital processes and advanced data-science techniques to provide deep insights about the condition of roads and roadscape to international organisations across the public sector, government and utilities.

Gaist provides innovative and accurate highways condition surveys and inspections that allows its customers to make cost-effective and informed decisions. Its unique infrastructure databank already covers over 341,500 kilometres of the UK’s roads and pathways, using over a billion high definition images to map every classified road in the country.

Since 2016, Gaist’s National Condition Survey has been surveying roads across England with the mission of revolutionising highways condition surveying. As a result, Gaist has provided the industry with a single, highly detailed map that instantly provides a wealth of information.