Share with your colleagues:

Barriers to connectivity: How decoding the jargon jungle can create a more accessible fibre environment

Exploring the pervasive issue of jargon in the broadband industry, Louise Elliott, chief customer and operations officer at Digital Infrastructure and BeFibre, emphasises how the excessive use of technical terminology creates confusion for alternative network providers (altnets), infrastructure operators, internet service providers (ISPs), and customers, ultimately hindering the adoption of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) services. Here, she advocates for a more straight-talking, accessible approach to empower progress in the full fibre roll-out.

The telecoms landscape is in a constant state of evolution — with new technologies, standards, and regulations emerging regularly. The labyrinth of technical jargon that riddles the space is one of many barriers hampering progress right now. As well as causing delays to network deployments through lack of clarity, it continues to cause confusion among consumers and impede the widespread adoption of FTTP services as a result.

To navigate such a dynamic environment, it’s therefore crucial that industry players cut through the smoke and mirrors and embrace more widely-understood language, and ensure their communications bear real value and substance too.

Improving collaboration efforts

While altnets and telecoms operators are immersed in the world of technical terminology, it’s crucial to remember that not everyone shares the same level of familiarity with these terms. That’s why communicating in plain English is incredibly important, with accessible language promoting inclusivity and ensuring that all stakeholders, regardless of their technical expertise, can actively participate in discussions and decision-making processes.

With this, policymakers and stakeholders can make informed choices about connectivity strategies and investments. Plus, minimising the risk of miscommunication and misunderstanding between stakeholders ensures that preventable delays or inefficient use of resources are not hampering progress of full fibre roll-outs, or causing costs to spiral.

Empowering the customer

There are significant benefits of this from a customers’ perspective too. When people understand what they’re signing up for and why, they can be empowered with the information they need to make informed choices and confidently embrace new technologies and services.

Regulation certainly acts as a powerful tool in combatting the headaches in this respect, ensuring that customers are provided with accurate information about their broadband options. Prohibiting ISPs from labelling services as ‘fibre’ if they do not deliver a full fibre connection, for example, recently-introduced Ofcom guidelines have better-equipped customers to differentiate between true FTTP networks and ‘hybrid’ or ‘part-fibre’ alternatives that have been advertised in the past.

With brand reputation also playing a central role in consumer decision-making today, being seen as a straight-talking provider  pays dividends in a commercial sense too. User-friendly materials — such as guides and videos — that break down complex concepts into digestible information can be a significant help here. At BeFibre, integrating our teams into the communities in which we operate has been key in driving greater uptake too. Residents know that real representatives are available to answer any questions or concerns they may have. And, because they don’t feel alienated by jargon-heavy communication, they’re more likely to build consensus and help push connectivity initiatives.

Helping to tackle the digital divide

Inequitable access to reliable connectivity is a significant challenge faced by marginalised communities more specifically, and the excessive use of jargon in the telecoms industry further exacerbates this digital divide. By using complex language, the industry inadvertently reinforces the disparities in access to information and resources.

To bridge the digital divide and promote inclusivity, it is crucial to simplify language and communicate in a way that is accessible to all. By breaking down jargon and adopting a more transparent approach, the telecoms industry can empower marginalised communities to understand their connectivity options, advocate for their needs, and actively participate in shaping the future of broadband infrastructure. Only through inclusive and equitable practices can we begin to address the digital divide and work towards a more connected and equitable society.

Fostering healthy competition

Healthy competition among altnets is crucial for driving progress in the full fibre roll-out — encouraging innovation, efficiency, and improved services for consumers. However, jargon in the telecoms sector can create a barrier for new entrants and smaller players, limiting their ability to compete effectively.

Complex technical terminology may be used by established incumbents to maintain their advantage and deter competition. This creates an unfair playing field and hampers the entry of new players who may struggle to navigate the industry’s jargon-laden landscape. By simplifying language and promoting transparency, we can level the playing field, foster healthy competition, and empower new entrants to drive innovation, ultimately accelerating progress in connectivity rollouts and empowering consumers with greater choice.

In the race towards a connected future, clarity and accessibility are paramount. By simplifying communication, educating stakeholders, and fostering collaboration, we can overcome the barriers posed by excessive technical terminology and pave the way for a successful full fibre rollout. 

You can learn more about BeFibre here, and their sister company, altnet Digital infrastructure, here.

Hear from our experts

Read more latest news, insights and views from Trenches Law