Insight: Digital infrastructure & the impacts of climate change

Climate change adaptation is about building in resilience to things like flooding, storms and sustained high temperatures.

In a policy context, it means continuing to enjoy our quality of life by ensuring the systems on which we rely still function adequately – systems such as electricity, water, sewerage, transport and telecoms. These systems are heavily interdependent; our water supply cannot work without electricity, air traffic control cannot work without digital communications.

Adaptation planning previously focused on improving resilience of individual services; the UK Government can require certain infrastructure sectors to report on their climate change readiness. more recently, attention has shifted to interdependencies, firstly to the dependence of most sectors on energy and now to the dependence on ICT.

Government recognised it is dealing with a complicated system of systems; DEFRA invited the ICT sector to report on its readiness for climate change with Ofcom invited to cover communications. techUK, an industry associated in the ICT sector, drew together the submission for digital infrastructure, i.e. fixed and mobile access networks, core networks and data centres. It described the climate change risks and the possible impacts, identified sources of information on resilience planning, and noted the barriers to the development of adaptive capacity. mindful that much of the fixed line infrastructure is delivered by one provider with its own well-developed corporate risk
plan, the submission focussed on the UK data centre estate.

UKCP09 (UK Climate Projections) provides the primary information source on scenarios for rainfall, temperature and humidity although it is not clear how widely these are used by operators.The Environment Agency’s “Flood map for planning” provides localised flood risk information and is extensively used.The extent to which the sector is aware of other Environment Agency data, such as surface water modelling, is variable.

Digital infrastructure is relatively resilient to climate change; its asset life is relatively short so more resilient assets can be deployed as part of the replacement cycle, and there is more built-in redundancy in ICT infrastructures. On the other hand, the sector is highly dependent on energy and there are interdependencies within the digital infrastructures sector that can be complex to analyse. Physical impacts to climate change
threats include flooding of buildings and ducts, silt and salt damage, scour of cabling and foundations, problems of access for staff, disruption to logistics, cable heave from uprooted trees, lightning damage, wind damage, higher costs of cooling, and stress
on components.

Data centres compete on the basis of resilience; the more important the data, the more resilient the facility.This is usually achieved through “redundancy”, which carries both capital and operational costs. Data centre availability classes are described under EN 50600 and there are other generic risk standards such as ISO 31000. Scenario
planning for emergencies is common.

Making the business case for investing in something that may not be needed can be a barrier and the dependence on other sectors, especially energy but also transport and
physical “pinch points” like bridges that carry multiple utilities,make it particularly complex to analyse and justify. External barriers include a policy focus on protecting physical assets rather than on business or service continuity.Also,regulatory policy driving price competition can lead to unintended consequences on resilience.

The UK’s digital infrastructure has experienced localised interruptions in service. It has implemented changes following flooding in york and Leeds in 2015 and has learned from Japan where prior planning ensured that data centres there escaped serious damage  rom the 2011 tsunami.

techUK’s submission to Government recommended:
• A more standardised approach to the climate change projections so that all sectors are using the same dataset.
• A policy approach that accommodates service delivery rather than just asset protection and a more robust approach to dealing with inappropriate flood plain developments.
• A more proactive process for identifying single points of failure in physical infrastructure following incidents such as the road bridge failures at Tadcaster and Cockermouth.
• Hinted at some regulatory aspects might be revisited to ensure that they do not result in unintended consequences.

The important thing is that operators are aware that climate change risks exist, that they have to be actively managed as part of the risk portfolio and that, just like risks from
terrorism, they are constantly changing.

This is a summary of a full article which appeared in The Journal, Volume 11, Part 2 (free for members).


Spotlight on Savills

Each month we will focus on the ITP’s Corporate Associates – this month it’s Savills. The ITP’s latest Corporate Associate, Savills provides UK mobile phone operators with a full range of infrastructure support services from acquisition to E2E (End to End) management of radio base stations.

During the past three years, the UK mobile market has seen a vast increase in network upgrade/optimisation, and with this increased demand, Arqiva went to the market to increase their current build partners.

After a detailed tender process Savills Telecom was awarded a construction contract
which was to provide site acquisition, design and construction works on various Arqiva technical sites throughout the UK and Ireland in support of its Site Share Product within the UK mobile network infrastructure.

Initially Savills was given a batch of 15 sites across the Vodafone network. However, following successful completion the company has now completed around 80 sites for Arqiva within the past 12 months, ranging from British Telecom exchange rooftops and Greenfield new builds to existing tower upgrades and extensions. Each site has had an element of the following disciplines:

  • Security Perimeter Fencing.
  • Access Trackway.
  • Concrete tower bases and plinth extensions.
  • Erection of tower infrastructure.
  • Construction of external concrete cable ducts.
  • Installation of both internal & external cabinets.
  • Installation of both AC and DC supplies.
  • REC management.
  • Earth bonding.
  • Earth lightening protection systems.

The business provides internal site building mechanical and electrical fit out works, which include installation, test, inspection and certification of:

  • AC main power supplies and lighting equipment.
  • DC power supply equipment with UPS back up and battery stacks.
  • LPG and Diesel generator supplies and connection points.
  • Diverse clean and dirty earth bonding points and cabling.
  • Environmental and Air cooling management systems.

The above works are part of our ongoing contract with Arqiva and Savills have further site builds planned in Q2 2017 and beyond. Find out more about the ITP’s Corporate Associates.


Mobile broadband operators are continuously improving their networks to provide additional 4G coverage but perhaps more importantly to meet government targets in providing end users with higher data speeds. As a result, Savills’ Telecoms services has expanded significantly to become a market leader with the ability to deliver fast track projects through a combination of the following: • A team of 125 installation engineers, acquisition agents and project managers. • Excellent project management systems. • Turn-key network managed services team. • Unrivalled access to the Savills network of clients in all sectors of property.. • A strong brand in the property sector that unlocks access for our telecom clients,

For more information contact Mick Willmott, Operations Director t. 01789 206457 e.

A year in the life of the ITP

With the remainder of 2017’s calendar rapidly filling up, here’s a snap shot of what ITP members got up to in 2016 – from Insight Trips and Insight Calls to seminars and Awards.


ITP delegates and experts from across the telecom sector descended on London’s BT ITP seminarCentre to share latest warnings and suggested solutions in the ever more challenging topic of telecom security. Presenters included: Paul Adams – Marketing Director, Nokia; Ben Azvine – Global Head of Security Research and Innovation, BT; Paul King – Director, Threat Intelligence, Cisco; Gavin Thomas – Strategic Account; Director, Consumer Security EMEA, Intel. Watch the video here if you missed it.


One of ITP’s favourite Insight events, the iconic London landmark is known as the hub of UK media and broadcast activity. Members enjoyed in-depth behind the scenes tours of the Media and Broadcast control room, presentations from the tower-based team and access to areas which the public never see – including the dramatic outside viewing platform approximately 600 feet above London.


Ten ITP members headed out to Brussels after winning an exclusive competition to win tickets to the Total Telecom Conference on Gigabit Copper. The Conference included speakers from Nokia, Swisscom and Positron.


The ITP Seminar provided an overview of the big trends over the last 30 years and the ITP seminar 2016major trends now being seen which will drive the industry forward. ‘Convergence’ was the watchword – it has been a goal of telecoms for many years and has shaped the evolution plans and developments but, until now, has remained elusive and incomplete. Now, given the major trends in computing, storage, cloud and software, convergence is almost inevitable and will significantly change the skills required of professionals in our industry, as the seminar revealed. A lively panel session pondered a number of questions around the ‘so what’ of the technology – how will this impact on our lives and our businesses? There was also some concern about potential show stoppers – is the Internet scalable to the degree required for IoT, for example?

INSIGHT VISIT – RADIO AND RIGGING13612326_1046935215341598_4627521998643069739_n

ITP members reached dizzy heights in July when they headed out to the Radio and Rigging training facility in Markfield, Leicester. Always a breathtaking visit, the trip saw members climbing the 300-foot Telecoms Security High Tower, making a mini rig, building a dish and – to add drama to the already exhilarating event – carrying out a dummy stretcher rescue.


ITP’s guided Tour of the Information Age Gallery with John Liffen, Curator of untitledCommunications, celebrated more than 200 years of innovation and communication technologies. ITP member Tom Chambers MCP MITP from Infrastructure Delivery Control, Openreach, was amongst the attendees. “The visit to the Science Museum was both immensely enjoyable and a bit scary,” said Tom. “To be given the opportunity to visit to the Information Age Gallery, escorted and informed by the Curator, was something which I never imagined could happen. The scary bit was to stand in front of some of the displays and realise that I was looking at equipment that I used to install which was now in a Museum!”


Bawdsey Radar, Suffolk, is the world’s first operational radar station. Steeped in history, members experienced an ITP stepback-in-time, witnessing the birth of technology that changed the world as we know it. The visit was followed up with ITP’s Insight Talk on Radar by inspirational member Ray Hooper. Listen in if you missed it.


The Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) Foundation became an ITP Corporate Associate. ITP visited its home, Dettingen House at the Princess Royal Barracks in Deepcut, Surrey, for a day of induction and celebration.


ITP members were privileged to tour Inmarsat’s hi-spec conference centre and control room where they witnessed examples of exactly what the company does on a global scale. More information was gleaned by the subsequent presentations on Inmarsat and Global Government. With the media spotlight on fibre to the home, a visit to a satellitefocussed operation was an intriguing twist for ITP guests.


A visit to BT Openreach’s Network Hybrid Academy, Stansted, gave ITP members a 14355137_1106608302707622_4505626442883978893_nunique opportunity take part in hands-on experiences throughout the day. The visitors were introduced to everything from cabinets, footway boxes and poles in the street, to the equipment that is typically seen in homes and businesses. All equipment that is normally seen in a busy local telephone exchange were on show, ranging from a System X switch and Points of Presence (PoPs) to the Main Distribution Frame (MDF).A thoroughly enlightening visit which also included an overview of the copper and fibre networks, Next Generation Access, Ethernet, DSL/Broadband, Network Security, E-side pressure, WLR/Copper and Line Testing.


Cable manufacturing at BT Cables’ Manchester plant began over 115 years ago, developing into a global operation. As ITP members found, over half of the massive 28-acre site at the facility is dedicated to the supply chain and logistics. This supports both internal customers within the BT Group as well as a growing portfolio of external customers across key market sectors including telecommunications (copper and fibre), transport, buildings and industrial. The supply chain team is closely integrated into other functions on site and co-ordinates activity through daily operational meetings involving sales, procurement, planning, and manufacturing.


ITP members received a full tour of Arqiva’s 330m-high Emley Moor transmitter in West Yorkshire. Taller than both The Shard and BT Tower, the mega structure looks after 1.5million people who rely on the mast for their digital TV channels. Alongside the tower’s role to broadcast TV and radio across Yorkshire, Arqiva has its UK transmission headquarters based on site. The tower also delivers TV to five continents 24/7, 61 airline lounges use its Wi-Fi Network along with 85,000 hotel rooms and 75 UK motorway service stations.


BT Archives preserves the historical information of BT and its predecessor telecom and telegraph companies from the mid part of the 1800s up to the present day. Members learned how the year after the demonstration of the first telephone in 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell, The Telephone Company was launched (from which BT is descended), introducing the UK’s first telephone service. Just 30 or so years later, the company could be found designing and installing the telephone for Scott’s famous Antarctic expedition (1910). And then came the two World Wars and the advent of Colossus. Radio-telephones became the ‘next big thing’, and the paparazzi of the day captured Prince Philip making one of the first calls from the Post Office (PO) research centre at Dollis Hill in 1955. The first Radiophone (car phone) service appeared in 1959, and in 1968 the world’s first ever digital exchange opened in Kensington, London.


The much loved ITP Christmas Events took place at venues across the country at the end David_Hallof last year – The University of Salford (November 26), The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Ltd (December 3), BT’s Adastral Park (December 7), The Museum of London (December 10) and Glasgow Caledonian University (December 17). The annual Christmas events aim to inspire young people about Science and Technology and welcome children from the ages of upward.


The winners of this year’s ITP Awards were presented with trophies at a glittering Awards ceremony at London’s Radisson Blu hotel in December. The prestigious event included a champagne reception, live entertainment and a three course dinner. Hosted by Ann Widdecombe, the Awards applauded apprentices and mentors in the telecoms sector.

For more information, or to book visit the ITP’s events page. Visit our Facebook page for all our Insight visit pictures. 

5 mins with…Ben McGawley, Trinity Maxwell Limited 

This week’s 5 min chat is with Ben Gawley, Operations Director at Trinity Maxwell Limited, who talks challenges, opportunities and apprenticeships.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a telecoms professional?   The pace of the marketplace – from technology to regulation.

How do you feel The ITP’s Apprenticeship scheme has benefited your company? It has enabled us to find motivated candidates with an aspiration to progress.

What do you see as the major trends for the next 12 months? Technology wise, IoT growth and cloud strategy being driven by more interoperability.

What are your priorities for this year? To continue business growth while expanding expertise in key areas.

What would you say to apprentices considering entering the industry? Unlike many industries, the pace of change keeps it constantly engaging and fresh. There are a wide array of areas and roles that you can grow into once you start working in the industry, so if you are willing to work hard then there aren’t many better industries to work in.  You need to make sure you understand the building blocks, so you can understand how different services and solutions fit together, and the benefits and issues that this can bring.

Sum up the industry in one word…dynamic.

New Year, New Beginnings


Greetings from the ITP – we hope 2013 is a great year for all our members.

We’ve certainly hit the ground running, coming back to a mountain of exciting work – in particular, the launch of our brand new ITP Telecoms Apprenticeship Scheme.

As many of you will know, we’ve been working on this for some time – consulting with employers large and small, sourcing training, finding funding, and making sure we get the project exactly right.

Now, after all that groundwork, we are finally ready to officially launch, and have a fantastic event planned at BT Tower on March 13. I can’t think of a better venue than this iconic building, and we’re all really looking forward to it. It’s invite only, but if you would like to come, please do drop us a line as we may well be able to make room for you – if you are able to wait until late in the day to hear if we have space.

On the day we will be hearing from apprentices and their employers, as well as meeting our training providers and other people involved in the scheme. We hope that this is going to make a real difference – not only to telecoms, by allowing all business to access the benefits of apprentices, but to young people looking for a foothold in a thriving and ever-changing career.

To show our own commitment to apprentices, we are putting our money where our mouth is and are currently recruiting for our very own Business Admin apprentice, who we look forward to joining us at ITP HQ very soon.

We’re also aware that apprenticeships are only the beginning – and many of our members are at different stages in their careers. That’s why we’ve also decided on an extra push for Professional Registration. So far, it’s been hugely successful – with the intake of new ICTTech candidates in December, more than half the engineers on the Engineering Council ICT Technician Register are ITP members. Being a telecoms engineer is a highly skilled, highly professional role – and by offering Professional Registrations, we aim to support all our members by offering them the opportunity to apply for the relevant registration for them – allowing them to gain internationally recognised letters after their name which benchmarks the skills and experience they have gained in their careers.

We offer a range of registrations – from ICT and Engineering Technician to Incorporated and Chartered Engineer. Whatever stage of your career, there will be one that is right for you. Why not click on to our case studies  and see how it’s helped some of our members so far? If you want to know more, just contact us.

January is a time when many people are looking at their lives and their careers, deciding on future moves and goals, and considering their options. The ITP is here to help – whether it be Professional Registration, mentoring, or getting out and about doing some networking. Keep an eye on our website and see what we have to offer in 2013!

Virgin Media Apprentices – Doing their bit for charity! Guest blogger Chris Starling fills us in on his apprentice team’s latest adventures

The Virgin Media apprentices are a great bunch – they don’t just work hard, they throw themselves into all kinds of experiences as part of their apprenticeship.

Every year we organise a charity event, and every year the apprentices show huge amounts of enthusiasm in helping us raise money for worthy causes. In 2011 more than £4,000 was raised, and in 2012 we wanted to do even better.

This year our main event took the form of a coast-to-coast bike ride – almost 140 miles in the saddle! It was a daunting task, but the causes we were fundraising for gave us the extra motivation to complete the job at hand – Cancer Research UK and the Make A Wish Foundation.

The trip took four days, cycling between 30 and 40 miles a day – with the added bonus of being able to camp at the end of the journey. This extra element of luxury meant that we were in intimate terms with the local gnats, and that we gained a new appreciation of the natural world – as well as the healing power of Vaseline!

We started – as tradition dictates – by dipping our rear wheels in at the Irish Sea, following up with the North Sea when we reached the other side. However, one of the participants took this a little too literally and accidentally ended up dipping his entire self into the Irish Sea!  Of course we could have helped him, but that would mean we would have got wet so – decided it was easier to watch him go in!

All went well until the fourth day of the trip, when the good old British weather made an appearance. We ended up stranded when the monsoons hit Newcastle – I have never seen so much rain fall in such a short amount of time.  It was unbelievable.  Four of our riders abandoned the last 5 miles having taken shelter in a local garage.  In the time that it took to put 2 bikes on the roof of my car my feet were totally submerged in water!

After cycling the final 21 miles on the Friday the sun came out to watch us approach the finishing line – North Sea in Roker.

After what feels like a massive achievement we have raised over £6,200 for the incredible charities and the money is still coming in.  I’m not sure if I am quite looking forward to next years challenge, I still need a bit of time to recover, but whatever it is, I’ll do it with style – and I’m sure the Virgin Media apprentices will be there at my side!