Digital Revolution in the South East: Reading



With a total student population of over 18,000, Reading is an educational and commercial hub, and has stood as a popular commuter town for decades. Due to the student population, the Berkshire town is densely populated with a high concentration of commercial properties located within a relatively small area. The town has resultantly become a firm choice for those entering higher education, and as a location that is easily accessible from London, provides the urban buzz without the associated costs.

Firmly positioned as an important commercial centre for the South East, Reading has undoubtedly felt the pressures that come from ineffective, inadequate network connectivity as the town continues its expansion and development.

As teaching and educational trends continue their shift over to virtual means, the demand on existing network infrastructure becomes enormous. Beyond this, data-intensive leisure activities like the use of streaming services and gaming are also placing significant pressures on current network provisions. In turn, these reduce the operational capacity and efficiency of these networks, and help to create the perfect storm for current connections to fall short on their delivery of a reliable, robust network.

Challenges ahead of Reading's Fibre City

With its significant student population, Reading shares similar network challenges with other educational hubs across the country. Committed to addressing these challenges, Glide Group, a market-leader in ultrafast broadband connectivity and fibre, took on the task of helping to develop Reading’s network infrastructure.

Prior to this, several issues within Reading’s existing infrastructure were identified:

  • The town’s infrastructure was ineffective in responding to the growing network demands of its population. Reading required a long-term solution that would support the growth of its increasingly popular educational facilities.
  • Beyond the university campus itself, students living in halls of residence and houses of multiple occupancy (HMO’s) required access to a reliable, robust network in order to work and learn remotely.
  • Reading’s existing network was not scalable, potentially limiting its prospect of digital growth and development. Glide’s aim was to grow alongside its customers in Reading by ensuring that network demands were being continuously met.

Meeting the Demands of Students in Reading

Glide Group’s work in Reading took form as a two-phase project, mainly aiming to make the University of Reading’s network stronger and more resilient. The vast majority of Glide’s work in the Berkshire town is now completed, and readily available for customers to join.

There are currently two halls of residence in Reading live on Glide’s fibre network, servicing a total of 272 rooms. Once the network in Reading is fully active, it is anticipated that a total of 1,762 rooms across 10 halls of residence will be active. This means that these tenants can all access Glide’s super-fast fibre broadband connection to enhance their learning and overall student experience.

Halls of Residence in Reading are set to be integrated into Glide’s bespoke Edge Network, delivering industry-leading speeds of up to 37.5Mb per second, irrespective of the user’s location along the network infrastructure. This will involve in-room deployment of Wi-Fi access points, ensuring that all residents in these privately-owned Halls of Residence have unwavering access to the Edge Network. These access points will be Meraki branded, thanks to Glide Group’s collaboration with the market-leading IT company.

Beyond halls of residence, this particular fibre project in Reading is set to expand beyond the immediate University campus and allow two industrial estates in the town to join the network. The customer experience is vital to Glide, and the organisation is looking forward to making a real difference to Reading’s educational and commercial facilities as the project rolls out.

Looking Ahead

Glide’s ongoing effort in Reading is testament to its commitment to scaling up the network infrastructure in areas of key educational importance across the UK, and supporting all customers. As livelihoods change and user demands continue to rise, Glide wishes to grow alongside its customer base, and ensure that no city or region is limited by inadequate network infrastructure.