Drivers of change? The future of the transport sector - Neos Networks

Drivers of change? The future of the transport sector

By Amelia Streeter-Smith, Transport Account Director 


The transport sector is often an early adopter of more digital, efficient ways of working to improve services and profitability. The restrictions to travel and movement during the last year brought this to an abrupt halt, with digital transformation ambitions stagnating and ‘making do’ prevailing until lockdown measures eased.

However, as businesses look to reduce their overheads and operational costs for the longer term, and employees consider permanently reducing the time and costs of commuting, working from home is likely to be the way forward for many – even with the current easing of restrictions.

During March and April 2021, we conducted industry research to better understand the current state of the transport sector, and to dig a little deeper into how the biggest challenges might be addressed with the right connectivity infrastructure and solutions to support its recovery.

Navigating the challenges

When asked about the biggest challenges facing the transport sector in 2021, project funding came out on top. Closely followed by the implementation of infrastructure upgrades.

This is not surprising as, along with Crossrail, HS2 and the Road Investment Strategy, the Department for Transport has a further 24 projects on the Government Major Projects Portfolio. Some have seen dramatic cost increases from their initial estimates, whereas others have completely stalled, such as the third runway at Heathrow Airport.

We also asked about the top addressable challenges for telecommunications within the transport sector in 2021.  Again, two clear leading challenges emerged: reliable accessibility to multiple sites and reducing costs.

From the results, three core themes stood out as having an impact on transport’s digital transformation:

  1. Funding and cost reduction, both capex and opex. Access to funding has been seriously impacted with the lack of revenue generation from customers across all modes of transport during the pandemic. There is no current understanding of the long-term impact this will have in ensuring the UK’s travel network remains sustainable and modernised.
  2. Multi-site accessibility – prevalent in this sector due to the multiple sites (warehousing, depots, distribution centres etc), where access to central systems and access to those based in the field is critical. Accessibility is especially challenging as organisations are reliant on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), 4G and 5G networks to maintain connectivity for field-based staff.
  3. Physical implementation of infrastructure upgrades – a particular challenge for rail companies, as critical infrastructure needs to be ‘always on’ even whilst undertaking upgrade works. Keeping existing infrastructure live, whilst new infrastructure is implemented, can increase the cost to upgrade (for a limited time) to ensure continuity of service.

Simplifying and optimising national networks

At Neos Networks, we believe in taking the complexity out of connectivity and simplifying UK networks. We can help navigate a clear pathway through the main challenges for this sector with:

  1. Co-investment of network assets to improve connectivity on the move, as well as flexible cost models to suit any business budget.
  2. Multi-site visibility and accessibility can be better managed with our network management and optimisation services, such as SD-WAN and IP-VPN.
  3. Our fast-growing UK network is ideal for rail companies in need of physical infrastructure upgrades. By the end of 2021, we will have a total of 550 unbundled exchanges on-net, reaching more businesses than ever before. Our new network has been designed to deliver 100Gbps services right across the nation, making our network one the most pervasive in the UK and ideal for transport companies with regional and national routes.

Finally, we understand the importance of network resilience along transport routes. Our network is responsible for critical national infrastructure, such as the work we’re doing for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) through Telent to deploy a resilient Ethernet network directly into 165 of the MCA’s remote radio sites located around the UK coastline, supporting Telent to keep them online 24/7, 365 days a year, and helping to keep the public safe at sea.


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