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DEFRA Warns of Threat to UK WiFi and Fibre Optic Networks by Climate Change

Posted: 10th May, 2011 By: MarkJ
fixed wireless uk broadbandThe UK governments Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has called for "urgent action" to be taken in order to protect the country's vital infrastructure from the effects of Climate Change. In particular the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, warned that signals from Wi-Fi networks could be disrupted by "intense rainfall or high temperatures".

Existing fibre optic and copper telecommunications networks, which are both being used by ISPs and telecoms operators to carry telephone and broadband internet access services, were also sighted as being at risk from both flooding and related erosion.

Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, said:

"Our economy is built on effective transport and communications networks and reliable energy and water supplies. But the economy cannot grow if there are repeated power failures, or goods cannot be transported because roads are flooded and railways have buckled, or if intense rainfall or high temperatures disrupt Wi-Fi signals.

£200bn is expected to be invested in the UK's infrastructure over the next five years. But if the facilities which support our society cannot cope with floods, droughts, or freezing winters then that money will have been wasted."

Spelman has subsequently called on the owners and operators of infrastructure to include measures that would improve their "climate resilience". The report does not specifically mention other forms of wireless networking ( e.g. WiMAX and LTE ), so we're left to assume that these are at an extremely minimal risk.

uk climate change and internet risks

Currently the UK is not strictly reliant upon Wi-Fi, although many homes / businesses do have wireless networks to aid the sharing of connectivity and we're one of the largest country's in the world when it comes to the prevalence of public Wi-Fi based internet access Hotspots.

The report itself is actually rather thin on providing any practical recommendations for improving the resilience of Wi-Fi and fibre optic/copper line based infrastructure, except for leaving it all up to the telecommunications operators to resolve.
Defra's Climate Resilient Infrastructure Report (PDF)
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