Unleashing Scotland’s digital potential - Neos Networks

Unleashing Scotland’s digital potential

By Sarah Mills, Managing Director for Wholesale and Smart Infrastructure, Neos Networks

Good connectivity is more than just a ‘nice to have’. It can boost business opportunities, create new jobs, and has the power to uplift entire communities.

It’s why initiatives like the Shared Rural Network (SRN), Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI), Scottish Futures Trust Strategic Data Centre analysis, and Scotland 5G have been established; to bring mobile broadband to rural communities and digitise Scotland. Arguably, it’s the part of the UK that needs rural community connectivity the most, and with S4GI already in deployment and the SRN first build phase planned to start in 2022, a boost to rural business turnover of nearly £200m has been forecast.

The benefits of improving connectivity for any area are clear, from making jobs safer and easier by enabling automation, to boosting productivity and raising the chances of investment in under serviced areas. But in Scotland, where as many as 45% of rural small-medium enterprises and a third of those in more metropolitan areas report a poor or variable broadband service, improvements to digital infrastructure are likely to be most appreciated.

Neos Networks has been supporting Scottish infrastructure projects, from Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and local government, to energy and utilities for many years. The government also recognises the importance of this, having matched investment of £500m from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to produce a total fund of £1bn to help Scotland reach its full potential.

We work with businesses and local authorities to enhance operational efficiencies in the quest to address climate change, deliver the digital estates required to develop smart cities, maintain license obligations with OFCOM and underpin CNI to keep the country up and running.

The story so far

Neos Networks will have unbundled 550 exchanges across the UK by the end of 2021, greatly expanding our network and better connecting organisations across the country. In Scotland, Neos Networks already runs connectivity into 11 data centres and has 50+ Points of Presence (PoPs). We’ve unbundled 26 exchanges across the region, with this number set to almost double upon the completion of our exchange project.

Our ongoing network expansion is not only helping enable our customers to utilise high capacity fibre services, but will also facilitate use cases such as IoT for manufacturing, as well as the rise of autonomous vehicles. Our infrastructure is also supporting one of the most powerful data centres in Scotland (and by extension the wider UK) to ensure it is no longer limited by geographical constraints. This provides businesses with greater access to ultra-fast connections and empowers MNOs to roll out connectivity services on a more expansive network.

One example of our investment in Scottish infrastructure is with Seagreen Wind Energy. Seagreen is an offshore wind farm 27km from the Angus coastline and Scotland’s largest generator of wind power, and required robust and resilient connectivity between its operations centre in Montrose and sub-station at Tealing. Neos Networks was able to install a comprehensive new network to maximise operational efficiency. This helped nudge the UK ever-closer to meeting its net zero targets. On completion, the development will be able to generate enough renewable energy to sustainably power 40% of all Scottish homes.

Beyond major enterprise, Neos Networks also partnered with Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross councils to deliver gigabit-capable connectivity to public sector sites, directly facilitating digital transformation by making full fibre connectivity possible, and enabling future smart city plans to take flight. The completion of these programmes will unleash potential for years to come.

Looking ahead

Boasting some of the largest connectivity hubs in the UK and uniquely positioned between the US and mainland Europe, Scotland is facing opportunity unlike any other country. In particular, running large content providers’ data through subsea cable networks.

FAMGA organisations and other hyperscalers need to traverse data from country to country, and transatlantic crossings into Europe have traditionally connected into Ireland. However, with Britain having now left the European Union and Scotland benefitting from an extensive western seaboard, the country is situated favourably, should these global behemoths identify advantages to connecting into sovereign nations.

Meanwhile, in the north of Scotland, a project to build the world’s first data centre powered solely by tidal energy is under way. Conscious of maintaining a carbon neutral footprint, this is expected to be an attractive prospect for hyperscalers, as huge global enterprises seek to find increasingly innovative ways of operating more responsibly. Together, the projects showcase how sustainability and connectivity can go hand in hand.

The future looks bright

Scotland stands to unlock tremendous potential by improving regional connectivity. There are endless benefits to this for businesses and end users alike, and advancing its digital economy will be all the more straightforward with the right partner. With a strong footprint and regional heritage, Neos Networks is well equipped to help Scotland realise its digital potential, and we will continue taking proactive steps to ensure the opportunity is fulfilled.

Neos Networks is engaged with Scotland 5G and Scottish Futures Trust with committed interest in supporting their great initiatives on 5G networks for major business and industry installations around Scotland and to support subsea cable landing station connectivity into the country. It’s expected that these initiatives will bring economic growth, increase employment and connectivity, delivered better by Neos Networks, to Scotland.

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