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Connections for a real difference, at a crucial time

In a little more than a month, we would have seen a full year since Covid-19 lockdown measures came into play in the UK, encompassing three national lockdowns and a variety of changes in the midst of them. It’s staggering how long this unnatural state of affairs has been going on for.


But despite the hardship that we have seen, one thing is clear from both a personal and professional sense – the country continues to move forward. Entire businesses have shifted to a remote set up, grandparents are video calling for bedtime stories and high-flying professionals are teaching Key Stage 2 Maths in between calls. With all that has happened, our connections to one another haven’t diminished, they’ve shifted and even strengthened as we’ve realised the real value and the power of partnerships.


The importance of the fundamentals

As an organisation, we feel a deep responsibility towards keeping us all in touch with one another -  it is the driving force behind everything that we do. After all, the network is what powers how we are communicating and has supported the UK’s shift to remote working over the last 10 or so rollercoaster months.


From the core network and fibre through to mobile operators and the power for 3, 4 and now 5G connectivity, we sit at the heart of Britain’s infrastructure, investing into existing and new technologies to ensure the best possible service for all. This has led to the acceleration of some exciting new innovations as we look to support connectivity wherever it is needed. But this is not just new technology for the sake of it – it’s innovation with a purpose.


This brings us on to small cells, a cornerstone of our push to #connectforgood. Essentially small, low-powered cellular radio access nodes which are used both in busy, congested areas as well as in more remote locations where signal can be difficult. Small cells work alongside the classic radio layer of service to boost signals and ensure connections are available and maintained, whoever needs to use them, no matter their geography.


#Connectforgood in action

The beauty of small cell installation is that it is minimal enough to be tailored out of sight. From lamp posts and phone boxes to the interior of buildings and the top of stadiums, small cells are the unseen helpers that are powering us towards new technologies such as the use of 5G, irrespective of the pandemic.


The nature of the cells and the importance of their use has been driven home over the last few months, as BT engineers have worked high and low – quite literally – in order to introduce or augment connectivity. Here are just some of the recent deployments carried out.


Hello Downing Street

Last month, we integrated an outdoor small cell with Nokia on Whitehall in Westminster, strategically located just outside the gates of Downing Street itself. Given the limited number of sites in the vicinity, a high footfall due to tourists and surrounding government buildings, this is a very high-profile area on the junction of Downing Street and Whitehall. With government departments coordinating in their approach to reopen the country, this cell ensured a powerful signal throughout a busy area.



Ain’t no mountain high enough

Connectivity is just as important in hard-to-reach areas. As of June 2020, Ofcom reports that 91% of the country receive good 4G outdoor coverage from at least one provider, but that still leaves too many people pining for a better connection.


So, stepping up to the plate was our engineering team in Scotland, who braved Ben Nevis in the middle of December, chipping away at the ice shrouding a cell site and relay for crucial repairs for our Scottish customer base.


Looking to the future

These are just two examples that showcase the versatile range of small cell deployment, the different goals they can achieve and the variety of situations our staff can find themselves in on their quest to #connectforgood. Because while the country makes the best of remaining in one location for the time being, we at BT see our field force – and the new technologies they deploy – as the foundation for keeping us connected. Over the last few months, that has taken us onto the roofs of football stadiums, to the birthplace of Shakespeare and everywhere in between.


For more insights on small cell technology and its usage, visit our website or read this recent piece from Ali Akhtar, Commercial Manager, Mobile at BT Wholesale for an overview of the technology and its usage. 

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