Improving the fixed infrastructure
The digitization of society results in a tidal wave of data, a growing need for even faster connections and a growing demand for super reliable networks. To fulfil that need, we are continuously expanding our fixed networks and constantly installing new network equipment. We monitor the quality of our networks 24/7 and renew where necessary. We invest in new technologies that significantly reduce the number of disruptions and use the available bandwidth more efficiently. In doing so, safety and privacy always have the highest priority.
Gigabit record for 'Boer zoekt vrouw'
The gigabit meter of VodafoneZiggo reached an impressive 771 gigabit per second on 11 November 2018. A record. It was the sum of every customer watching TV or films online through Ziggo on Demand, Ziggo Replay or Ziggo GO. The peak in the network load was mainly caused by the many thousands of Dutchmen watching the grand finale of 'Boer zoekt vrouw'. The previous record stood at 750 gigabit per second during the last episode of Game of Thrones in 2017.
Gigabit network is under construction
VodafoneZiggo is building an infrastructure of mobile, optical fibre and coaxial cable networks that will easily enable us to cope with the explosive growth in bandwidth and speed the next few years. We have the ambition to start offering internet speeds of more than 1,000 megabit per second as of 2020, or in other words 1 gigabit. Streaming and downloading large files will then be possible in the blink of an eye.
DOCSIS 3.1 leverages cable space
A smart way to transport more data over our optical fibre-coaxial cable networks, is by using the available space on the existing infrastructure more efficiently. This is done by deploying new cable techniques like DOCSIS 3.1, for example. This technology gives the existing network capacity a significant boost, resulting in internet speeds amounting to 5-10 gigabit per second. DOCSIS 3.1 makes connections more stable and safe and the network reaction time much faster. At the end of 2018, the Utrecht neighbourhood Oog in Al was the first to experience super high internet speeds. Twenty households and companies there are now testing cable internet with DOCSIS 3.1 technology, enabling them to download data at a speed of more than 1 gigabit per second. After the pilot, Utrecht will become the first city we will transform into 'Gigabit City', starting in 2020.
Providing cable access to other telecom providers
In September 2018, the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) decided that VodafoneZiggo – like KPN – should provide access to its network to providers without a network of their own. According to the ACM, KPN and VodafoneZiggo combined have a dominant position, as a result of which competitive conditions with other parties can become unbalanced. VodafoneZiggo disagrees with the conclusions the ACM draws with regard to the competitive conditions. We believe that cable access offers no added value compared to existing forms of access. A decision in this case is expected at the end of 2019. Until then we cannot make a realistic estimate of the financial impact of the ruling.
From analogue to digital
Another method to create more space on the existing cable networks is by freeing up additional frequencies. Because the signal for analogue television takes up part of the cable capacity, we are replacing it by the digital television signal. In return the customer benefits from a better quality picture and more channels.
Repairing cable failures quick as lightning
To guarantee a stable internet and a flawless TV signal for our customers, we are continuously working to improve our cable network. We merged the systems of Ziggo and the former UPC to form a new connection chain, from the server rooms to the internet connection at the customer’s home. In this way we are able to monitor and analyse our entire network around the clock. We can now send a repairman before the failure affects the customer, and our customer service employees are notified about local failures without delay. Online we immediately display a message that repairs are in progress and a voice computer informs callers about current disruptions. As a result of the new approach, we solved three times as many network failures at customers. Each week, the number of phone calls decreased by 10,000 and we had 1,500 fewer Ziggo vans on the road.
Solving and preventing disruptions
Many people experience a good connection as one of the basic necessities of life nowadays. They want to be connected anytime, anywhere. This is very noticeable when a technical failure results in a temporary disruption of the internet connection, for example. For some people this feels as if their life has come to a sudden standstill. At such times, our customer service employees can barely cope with the emails, phone calls and chats. But failures still occur several times a year. After all, technology remains vulnerable to unexpected occurrences, like power cuts, a broken cable or a transmission mast breaking down.
At the beginning of August 2018, we experienced a major failure in our mobile network. All of a sudden, many customers couldn’t call or text anymore, nor use mobile internet. The failure was caused by a short disruption in the system regulating mobile phone traffic. This created a ‘tailback’ on the network. Shortly afterwards, this was followed by a three-day failure of Ziggo On Demand, caused by a power cut in one of our data centres. That resulted in a breakdown in the equipment essential for on demand TV. We made an all-out effort to repair the damage as fast as possible.
We do whatever we can to prevent failures and to remedy them as fast as possible, should they occur after all. We constantly monitor the status of our networks, so we are immediately alerted if something goes wrong or threatens to go wrong. We inform our customers without delay and dispatch our servicemen to fix the problem.
Often it’s only one part of a chain of equipment and networks that breaks down, resulting in the entire service failing. At the moment, we are inspecting all these elements, drawing up a list of how each situation can be improved. We aim to install a spare for every critical part of the chain, so that the spare can immediately take over should the original part show any defects.
In the near future we will be using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to forecast where and when failures can occur. In this way we can anticipate that breakdown moment.