The full fibre future is now: Is retail ready for the big switch off?


For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the decline of physical retail. Instigated by digital, spurred on by the pandemic, fuelled by an ever-growing appetite for e-commerce.

Despite the demand for digital, bricks-and-mortar retailers still hold a good chunk of the market share, and there remain plenty of opportunities for physical retailers to set themselves up for renewed success as the retail sector rebuilds after a seriously rocky two years. One major opportunity lies in the very concept that many put down to the high street’s decline – digital technology.

It’s almost impossible for online shopping to recreate every element of buying something in-store. So to enhance the online experience, retailers are pulling out all the stops to make sure their e-commerce presence is as efficient and enticing as possible. For those retailers who still have a high street presence, there’s also increasing demand to make the in-store experience as digitally-driven as possible through nifty technical features that enhance the customer journey. These can include anything from in-store Wi-Fi, loyalty apps, self-serve kiosks, click and collect counters, CCTV cameras, voice technology and in-store digital maps and guides – all of which are more stable and reliable using a fibre broadband service.

As effective as this digital transformation is proving to be in the retail industry, it’s essential to understand that great digital solutions need a great deal of support and infrastructure behind them to keep things running smoothly. And with that in mind, there couldn’t be a better time for the full fibre rollout to arrive.

So long, copper

The big switch off will see the majority of the nation (85% of  homes and businesses) receive gigabit-capable broadband by the year 2025 - with a full switch away from copper for the entire nation set for 2030. This comes with a mammoth governmental investment pledge of £5 billion, a whole lot of infrastructure planning and a huge surge in competitive broadband deals.

Until relatively recently, most residential and business properties across the UK were connected to their local telephone exchange and internet connection by copper twisted-pair cables. These have been around in some shape or form since way back in 1911 and are referred to as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

These copper cables were designed for old-style telephones and have had numerous up-lifts over the years, including being repurposed to deliver broadband services in the shape of ADSL and then FTTC. Now it’s time for them to retire, as they‘re simply unable to cope with the high-bandwidth demands of modern business. This also spells the end of inconvenient downtime, damaging security breaches and unnecessary spending. The full fibre revolution is here!

What’s all the fuss about?

Much like other business sectors, the retail industry is set to benefit massively from the upcoming switch to full fibre. Not only will customers be able to access e-commerce sites with far more ease and speed, but there is also huge scope for the digital in-store experience to level up and impress. Retailers will also benefit from being connected to a far more resilient, cost-effective and scalable network– all by simply bringing full fibre to the premises.

So, we get the gist of the benefits – but what are the technical implications of the copper switch off for retail organisations?

Multiple connections are set to go

The copper switch off will include the ISDN phone lines currently used by many retail businesses, as well as older internet connections such as ADSL and FTTC broadband. These will all soon become obsolete as copper is powered down – so if your retail enterprise is running on any of these networks then it’s time to brace yourself for the changeover. If your business has been using ISDN, ADSL or FTTC services, you’ll need to find replacements. This will typically happen in three stages:

  1. Choosing a trusted internet provider that can meet your business needs

  2. Switching to fibre voice services, known as SIP or SIP trunks

  3. Upgrading phone systems to be compatible with SIP or installing a converter

Moving to the cloud

A move away from PSTN lines will ultimately signify a shift to cloud-based network services for retailers. This means saying goodbye to traditional and costly servers and embracing a far more secure, virtual approach. The benefits of shifting to cloud computing for retailers are unbounded. Managing, storing and analysing data becomes less laborious and much more efficient.

Retailers will be able to quickly adopt cloud technologies to effectively manage and process data for real-time insights into their target markets. The shift will also enable retail businesses to extend their reach to customers, via improved supply chain management, and provide unique customer experiences, so they can thrive in this highly competitive industry.

Integrating cloud computing services in the retail sector not only reduces IT costs but also simplifies workflows, streamlines processes, and most importantly, enhances the customer experience. None of this would be possible with old school copper connectivity – meaning the sooner you think about making the switch to full fibre, the sooner your retail business will benefit from the features of the cloud.

Let’s talk shop

Here at TalkTalk Business, we can help your retail operation truly thrive in an increasingly digital world. We offer a range of products and services that have been tailored to help retail organisations of all sizes overcome their technical challenges and benefit from a range of solutions. These include our intelligent SD-WAN offering, Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) with speeds up to 10Gb and, of course, our ultrafast full fibre broadband capabilities – plus much more. We’ve worked with leading retail organisations to help them streamline their digital solutions and make the switch to our fastest full fibre network. Now it’s time we guided you through your changeover.

Our team of experts are on hand to help advise you on the perfect technology solution for your business, allowing you to operate your organisation and serve your customers more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

It’s time to get ahead of the changes coming in 2025 and get in touch with TalkTalk Business about how we can get your business full fibre and future-ready. Or ring us for a chat today on 03301 625 738

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