What does the future hold for UK AltNets?

As a sponsor of the recent INCA roadshow event Design and Build: Innovation in Action on 9th May, 3-GIS had a front-row seat to the evolving landscape of the UK AltNet scene. Amidst discussions and insights shared by operators, product suppliers, and technology vendors; it became evident that the telecom sector, particularly amongst AltNets, is facing a pivotal moment. Here are our reflections on the key takeaways from the event. 

The needs of the AltNet

The period of rapid infrastructure build-out is currently behind us. AltNets are grappling with the realities of a maturing market, where consolidation is the buzzword of the day. With various factors, including significant world events, putting pressure on borrowing costs, AltNets have been forced to shift their focus towards connecting customers to generate revenue. However, with low cash reserves, a more prudent approach from investors, and an increase in buyouts, some industry commentators are questioning the future viability of some operators. Those of us gathered at this event had differing views but at least one viewpoint put forward stated that by 2030, the UK may see as few as 7 major AltNets, signalling a significant shakeup in the industry landscape.

Challenges and solutions

One of the pressing challenges highlighted by operators was the need for accurate telecom asset location data. AltNets must be able to confidently assert that their assets align with the data contained within their physical network inventory systems—that assurance proving crucial for attracting investors and securing higher buyout prices on acquisition. This underscores the importance of having the ability to accurately record asset locations. 

Many of the operators in the room identified a need to embrace technological innovation, such as AI-driven asset tracking, to help maintain accurate and up-to-date records while minimizing costs. In addition to this—and significantly important to achieving this goal—was the requirement for streamlining processes, the integration of data and systems, and unified CRM and OSS platforms. 

Data everywhere. But in which format?

Data fragmentation is another prevalent issue, with disparate datasets captured in various formats. While numerous companies offer datasets that AltNets can utilize, the lack of expertise and standardized data models poses significant obstacles. The release of the National Underground Asset Registry (NUAR) data model, an international standard for subsurface data, presents an opportunity for AltNets to migrate towards a universal data model. This transition could streamline operations, better facilitate mergers and acquisitions, and enhance data compatibility across the whole industry. 

Looking into the crystal ball

As we reflect on the insights gleaned from this event, it's evident that AltNets are navigating a complex and rapidly changing business environment. The challenges they face—from ensuring accurate and validated data to integrating systems and processes—require collaborative efforts across the industry, along with strategic foresight. By addressing these challenges head-on, it is still possible for AltNets to position themselves for sustained growth and success in an increasingly competitive market. As a trusted partner in telecom innovation, 3-GIS remains committed to supporting AltNets on that journey towards greater efficiency, reliability, and profitability.


Alan Gould at the INCA Innovation RoadshowAlan Gould, 3-GIS Implementation Engineer, shows off network management instruments of the past.


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