Gatwick’s whiteboards highlight the need for Internet failover satellite solutions

22nd August 2018

When an underground Vodafone fibre cable was damaged on Monday morning, the ever-present spectre of Internet outage haunted Gatwick Airport. Not only did passengers miss flights but their website spent half the day out of action and, thanks to the speed with which bad news breeds, the airport suffered negative press headlines on a global scale.

Clouded vision
The digital screens of the UK’s second-largest airport – used to display arrival, departure and gate information – are cloud-based and are connected through a web browser. The airport was the first major airport in the world to complete the rollout of a cloud-based flight information display system (FIDS).

The advantage of the VisionAir system, which covers 1,200 screens, is that it only takes up around 3 Mbps of bandwidth. It can run natively on smart TVs and it doesn’t require a PC behind the screen to control the display.

When a broadband cable is damaged or Internet connection fails, no company or customer is too big to suffer

Chaotic disadvantage
The chaotic disadvantage, as passengers discovered on Monday, is that when an Internet Service Provider (ISP) suffers an outage it affects every service that is underpinned by an Internet connection. At Gatwick, workers showed admirable analogue ingenuity, turning to whiteboards and marker pens to keep passengers updated but the outage also affected the airport’s website which was down for eight hours while engineers fixed the damaged cable.

The other significant point that Gatwick’s Vodafone outage highlighted is how reliant we are, as businesses and as individuals, on a reliable Internet connection in all areas of our lives. It also proved that when a cable is damaged or connection fails, no company or customer is too big to suffer.

A finger-in-the-dike fail
Gatwick turning to the sort of scrawled writing last seen in your O’ level physics classroom is what is known in this business as a “failover solution”. As failover solutions go it’s more finger in the dike than a thorough failsafe. And if Gatwick’s experience taught businesses anything, it’s that in this digital age there is no truer adage than “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”.

When you’re a business, whether it’s one the size of Gatwick Airport or a one-woman, an Internet failure can be an expensive event. A report by the research company Opinium in conjunction with Imperial College London, revealed that British businesses suffered an average of three days of Internet downtime each in 2017. Those combined outages cost the UK economy £7billion in lost productivity and extra overtime.

That’s the economy as a whole, when we focus on individual businesses, being disconnected from the Internet becomes an even starker prospect. Over 10% of UK businesses start losing money immediately when hit by an outage, 28% if that outage lasts for an hour and that figure rises dramatically to 46% if that outage last for four hours. And given that the average outage is six hours, that’s a lot of money to be lost in a very short space of time.

Satellite beams to the rescue
But when your connection fails bigblu’s Satellite Failover Services come into their own. When, not if, your Internet connection goes down we guarantee that satellite broadband failover will bridge the inevitable gap and stem any financial and reputational losses.

Bigblu’s solutions provide network connectivity to avoid service interruptions. Our Satellite Failover Services may not always replicate the speed of incumbent fibre, but they would have been more than adequate to power Gatwick’s digital screens. We also do guarantee continuity via a terrestrially-independent technology which is reliable, cost efficient, and which delivers low risk, guaranteeing your business can continue operationally.

If you want to avoid a whiteboard-and-marker-pen situation then visit the Satellite Failover Services section of our website and if you want to know more drop our failover guru Selwyn a line at