Back in the early 00’s when I was installing 3G networks in the UK, I can remember buying and using for the first time a Motorola H3G cell phone and making a ‘video call’ from my kitchen to a colleague, some years before ‘facetime’ became a household phrase. It was new, not 100% reliable, obviously beckoning for the promised future 4G LTE, but we as users were not really ready for this leap in technology. With the new ‘awkwardness’ feeling of a video call, I don’t think I used it to make another video call again after that. Let’s leave that still to science fiction.

It was the pandemic that forced all of us to shed the ‘awkwardness’ of not just hearing, but seeing the other person(s), friends, loved ones, or work colleagues. No matter our age, technical prowess, or preparedness, the pandemic has bought about a paradigm shift in our approach to video, Zoom, Teams or Face time calls, etc. entering our vocabulary and daily life. For some, including myself, video calls were and still are the bridge we were all looking for during the pandemic to connect to distant family or loved ones.

I doubt anyone could state with conviction there is a silver lining to any pandemic, but what is key for all of us is we return to normality, no matter what ‘normality’ is for us personally. I assumed leadership of The Light Brigade in the middle of the crisis, with one clear objective of positioning us for recovery. As an in-person skills training company, there is not much call for the ‘in-person’ part, no matter how key to skills training.

But what is clear, the new normal is different with video calls and ‘teleworking’ here to stay. We might laugh at some of the YouTube clips from the last year of calls or meetings gone wrong, but the ‘awkwardness’ is shed forever. We have seen a dramatic increase in the use of and need for faster, more reliable broadband connections. The appetite for high-speed data now is insatiable.

I am confident of Light Brigade’s future, the industry’s future, and our nation’s future. Efforts are in place to meet the demand for high-speed data. Improved broadband infrastructure, expansion of FTTx to the home or premise, especially in rural areas combined with 5G network deployment requiring further backhaul networks will deliver what is promised.

The need to train new entrants to the industry are the green shoots of recovery and growth and I can see this happening on a broad scale. Our future is bright, fiber optic bright!

Martin Lee, President, Light Brigade