Data and Innovation in the Private Sector
Making ‘Smart Planning’ decisions at ‘Lightning’ speed
Enabling Virgin Media to deliver enhanced broadband services to UK customers
Virgin Media, as the leading provider of ultrafast and gigabit broadband services in the UK, is at the heart of expanding access to next-generation broadband speeds for the nation. While reaching many major towns and cities in the UK, a number of areas and individual homes remain unserved by Virgin Media. Changes in consumer usage, such as gaming and on-demand video, mean that access to ultrafast broadband is now recognised as a universal need.
In line with the UK Government’s “Project Gigabit” scheme, in which they want gigabit speeds to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, Virgin Media is at the forefront of this plan with 7 million homes already able to access its Gig1 service with the aim of connecting its entire footprint of more than 15 million premises by the end of the 2021. This will deliver more than half of the Government’s ambition.
Virgin Media is also continuing to expand its network across the UK as part of its Project Lighting programme.
This is a national digital infrastructure programme on a huge scale: more than 20m premises are candidates for connection to Virgin Media’s network, each needing a physical connection to its core network requiring a variety of complex civil engeering methods . The selection of where and in what order to build is a critical consideration.
Recognising that a revolutionary approach would be required to successfully deliver this major national infrastructure programme, Virgin Media commissioned Deloitte to deploy a tool that would deliver a quantum change in its planning capabilities.
Deloitte brought together a multi-disciplinary team to ideate around the problem, combining data scientists and data engineers, operating model and process experts with civil engineers, experts in major capital programmes and telecommunication network experts with experience of fibre rollouts around the world. This breadth of capability, coupled with an innovative culture, was essential in enabling the Deloitte team to consider the challenge from multiple angles and create an innovative and practical solution.
Smart Planning is a transformative tool that harnesses the power of machine learning, big data and advanced analytics to enable Virgin Media to identify and assess opportunities to expand its network, automatically create high-level build plans, assess and exploit infrastructure sharing, and fully understand the end-to-end economic case for each proposed expansion. It performs these tasks at previously unimaginable speed.
Smart Planning, along with changes to KPIs, business process, governance and roles, is now responsible for identifying, evaluating and planning thousands of network expansion opportunities per month, improving estimation accuracy to 95%+, and increasing the return on capital employed by reducing average cost per premise by 25%.
Virgin Media can now compare and assess the relative economic case to build to any premise in the UK, including infrastructure-sharing using Openreach’s existing network, all at the click of a button.
Smart Planning is playing a critical role in accelerating the delivery of reliable ultra-fast broadband to previously underserved homes which, given the increased need for homeworking during the pandemic, is more important than ever.
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