As anyone familiar with the joys of moving house knows, getting your phone and internet connection installed is never a quick and easy task.
Days are spent waiting in for a man in a van to come and rummage around in a junction box down the road before drilling huge holes in your new walls and laying metres of ugly cable up and down them.
Take that joyous experience and translate it to a brand new construction site, often in a remote location and unlikely to have any kind of existing connections.
The average site will wait three months for the cable to be laid and lines to go live. And the misery doesn’t end there: very often the switch on will be accompanied by a big bill to cover the cost of digging up the road to get the cabling to site in the first place.
“It’s a nationwide problem and it doesn’t have any bearing whether you are a major contractor or an SME,” explains sales director Paul Mills at plant hire firm Speedy IT & Telecoms division. “The first couple of months on any project are crucial. If you turn up on day one and can’t get access to your systems, you can’t get the job running.
Naturally, Speedy has a solution − two in fact. Its two most popular rapid site set-up offerings can get a site up and running in under two weeks. That’s significantly faster than traditional means.
First up, Speedy Canopy. It effectively turns Speedy’s 350 depots into junction boxes, albeit pretty deluxe ones with dedicated data access. From there the service is beamed to and from the site from roof mounted dishes via a wireless ethernet bridge, which is capable of huge throughputs.
It’s 100% secure and the wireless connection has very little latency − time delay − meaning the system can easily handle video conferencing and other data hungry applications.
On most sites the system will deliver up to 20Mbps, with the exact speed likely to be delivered calculated in advance so there are no surprises.
“There have been big problems using satellites in the past, mainly due to high latency and even higher costs”
Paul Mills, Speedy
An experienced project manager will liaise with the contractor’s IT and communications professionals to agree site-by-site requirements, system integration and any connectivity issues before drawing up a full specification for approval,” explains Mills. “They’ll then supervise the installation and site set up and will be available to deal with any support issues that may arise.”
Clearly, sites need to be within range of the signal and there has to be a line of sight between depot and site. But as the longest transmission is currently to and from a Costain site on the Humber Estuary 17.7km distant from the local depot, there aren’t many sites out of range.
Live from day one
Connecting Costain’s power station project in Hull using traditional fixed lines would have cost more than £100,000 in excess charges. Using Speedy, the site was live from day one, with bonded ADSL data services and Hosted VOIP providing landline services.
Carillion is also an adopter. “At our project in Blackbridge, Scotland we required a full set-up, deployed quickly and with full capability for voice and data. The Speedy system was delivered in super fast time, gave a great user experience and solved our problem,” says head of ICT mobilisation and bid support Peter Walker.
But not all sites can get that direct and unbroken connection, and if yours is one of those it’s time to look to the heavens. Because since November a new satellite has been circling the skies and it is a game-changer when it comes to site communications.
“There have been big problems using satellites in the past, mainly due to high latency and even higher costs,” explains Mills. You were looking at a 10Mbps download speed and a 1Mbps upload speed for £3,000 a month. It was just not commercially viable for construction firms.
The new satellite has changed that. Launched with the purpose of being able to provide high speed, low latency broadband at a cost that would fit the residential market, Speedy has jumped on board to make it work commercially too.
After months of negotiation, Speedy launched Speedy Sky in April, providing download speeds of up to 10Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2.5Mbps with latency of just 500 milliseconds for just £120 a week − some saving.
Critically, it is faster to set up too.
“The beauty of it is we can have it up and running on site within 72 hours of receiving a purchase order. It is very, very competitive,” says Mills. “Whether you are on site for a week or a year, it is very cost effective.”
Carillion, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty are all using the Sky service already; 25 sites overall are using it and Mills says 30 more orders are lined up. “The satellite service is definitely the product of choice now and it’s forming the backbone of most of our strategic partnerships,” he says.
Typically contractors choose to progress with BT and get landlines installed, removing Speedy’s wireless solutions once the fixed line comes on line − although this is work that Speedy can and will do also as an approved network wholesaler. But increasingly IT managers are preferring to avoid the hassle and stick with Speedy’s solution.
The days of fixed line connections may be numbered.
Case Study: Centrica Gas Terminal, Easington
In May 2011, Speedy was called in by Costain to install internet and phone lines at the Centrica Gas Terminal at Easington, Grimsby.
As the site was remote, the client needed a supplier whose communications technology would keep working in such a cut-off location.
A team of Speedy engineers was sent to assess the site, and recommended Speedy Canopy as the best solution. Developed by Speedy technology specialists after extensive research, the Speedy Canopy meets the challenge of getting sites rapidly online by providing access to high-speed data, telephony and cloud-based applications within a matter of days.
Having assessed where the best location to fix an antenna was, a point-to-point wireless data link was set up, meaning that internet signals could be transferred over to the client from the nearest Speedy depot in Grimsby.
The process took just two days and required minimum manpower from Speedy, in contrast to the process of installing a fixed line service, which would have taken about 12 weeks and cost in excess of £100,000.