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Government Support for New Technologies

05 December 2017

Positive news coming from the budget, says Llyr Roberts, CEO of Prysmian UK

Amidst all the gloom about the slowdown in the economy there was a silver lining for Prysmian in this autumn’s budget. As the UK’s largest cable manufacturer, we welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that the Government will be making almost £400 million available to encourage the development of 5G mobile networks and to speed up the roll-out of ‘full fibre’ broadband.

Fibre Optic Broadband
Fibre broadband is a major area of opportunity for Prysmian. We’ve been leading the way with fibre-optic cables since the late 1970s, when fibre optic cable was used to replace the copper cables linking towns and cities.

Fibre has, of course, long since taken the place of copper for inter-urban connections. Within the urban environment, however, copper is still prevalent. Philip Hammond’s announcement should hasten the rate at which fibre replaces copper all the way to peoples’ homes so that eventually all dwellings in the UK will have ultra-high-speed broadband, as well as a host of applications yet to be developed.

5G Network
The development of 5G is another potential market for Prysmian’s cables. It is early days, but the roll-out of 5G is likely to necessitate a significant increase in the numbers of antennas in urban areas. Whether these antennas will be located on lamp-posts or on the corners of buildings, we don’t yet know; it is, however, fairly safe to assume that these antennas will be networked using cable. And, as the volume of mobile data increases, so too will the requirement for more fibre in the ground to cope with the bandwidth evolution on the surface.

Electric Cars
In addition to telecommunications, the Budget brought further good news for Prysmian with a government pledge of £200 million to support the wider roll-out of charging infrastructure for electric cars. I think the next five-to-ten years will see a revolution in electric vehicle technology.

Currently the pressure is on automotive manufacturers to come up with the products, but as owner-numbers increase, so too will demand for charging stations. Prysmian’s UK business is based on producing high quality, innovative products so it’s really important that we closely follow this development to ensure we are at the forefront and that we play our part in manufacturing the infrastructure necessary to drive this sector forward.

Of course, there will be no environmental benefit in the UK converting to electric vehicles if the power to charge those vehicles is coming from carbon-based fuels. The electric vehicle revolution will only make sense if charging stations are powered primarily from low carbon or renewable sources.

Power Distribution Cable
This is an area where Prysmian is already leading the way with its export cables transporting power from off-shore wind farms to the point at which it can connect with the grid. There are also plenty of interesting and exciting interconnector projects, both in the execution phase and on the planning table still to come.

Exploiting opportunities such as these in the autumn Budget will allow Prysmian to demonstrate great service and product innovation, which will help the business continue to grow our UK manufacturing capabilities.


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