Adastral Park
Careers & Education   >   Norwich Science Festival   >   The magic of networks
Day 1: The magic of networks
1 - Introduction
Meet Claire and Tom, our hosts for the day, who will introduce you to the world of networks with our team of experts from BT and the University of Bristol:
2 - Networks with Paul Veitch
Photo of Claire Doyle
Claire (host): Now that we know what we're going to be exploring, let me introduce you to our first industry expert, Paul Veitch. Paul will be looking at how 4G, 5G, broadband and Wi-Fi enable you to chat, message, game and watch TV by connecting your devices to the network.
Over to you Paul...
Photo of Paul Veitch
Photo of Paul Veitch
Paul Veitch
Senior Manager Networks Research, BT
Key qualifications: MEng, PhD
What does your job involve? Researching ways to improve quality and performance of networks, involving novel tools and techniques as well as data analysis and insights. The best thing about the job is being able to explore new technologies, and how they can make a real difference to our customers.
How did you get into your current role? I joined BT after doing an industrially-sponsored PhD at Strathclyde Uni (long time ago!). Although I started my career in research, I have moved around in other roles (including time with another Internet Service Provider (ISP)) though always with a strong technical emphasis.  I returned to a research-based role some years ago covering network softwarisation and quality-of-experience.
What did you want to be when you were younger?  A footballer in my dreams, but more realistically an engineer.
What do you do outside work? 5-a-side footy, swimming, books (fiction to help switch off from reality!), family.
Photo of Ben Azvine
Paul: thanks for watching my video, I hope you've enjoyed learning about networks! We have had some questions submitted relating to this topic in the lead up to Norwich Science Festival which are answered below. However, if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Please email stemexpert@bt.com .
Questions and answers
Question:
What are the main differences between 4G and 5G?
student profile
Photo of Paul Veitch
Answer:
A key difference between 4G and 5G is that 5G uses higher frequency radio waves and also exploits particular antenna technology that can handle much greater parallel data transfer. The main outcome of this for a 5G user is that faster download speeds -100s of Mbps compared to 10s of Mbps - are possible. Besides just higher speeds, another advantage of 5G over 4G is that lower latencies are possible. Latency is a measure of "delay" in the network and for some services and applications it is a major consideration. In fact, 5G networks are expected to evolve to support a much wider range of services than 4G: autonomous vehicles, industrial robots, drones and remote surgery are just some of the more advanced applications of 5G. The important point is to understand we won't just pull the plug on 4G and switch to 5G 'overnight'. The 4G network is very good at what it does and provides significant coverage to a very large number of users, so for some time to come 4G and 5G will co-exist.
Question:
What is the peak traffic volume you've seen on the network?
student profile
Photo of Paul Veitch
Answer:
Around 20 Tera bits per second (Tbps). That's a big number with a lot of zeros! The number 20 with 12 zeroes on the end, to be more precise. Equating that to something real, it would be the amount of traffic generated if around 4.5 million households were watching something on the BBC iPlayer catchup service (e.g. EastEnders, Line-of-Duty, Strictly) at exactly the same time.
Got a question? email stemexpert@bt.com
3 - Have a go activities
Photo of Tom Bowman
Tom (host): Now it's your turn to have a go at building your own network, to help you understand how data is shared across the internet. You can download the activity pack to get step by step instructions.
Downward arrow
Download activity pack
4 - Career profiles
Photo of Claire Doyle
Claire (host): Networks can lead to a really exciting career and you might be surprised by the various different roles available within this space. Below we've pulled together some profiles of people from Adastral Park and across BT that work in the area of networks. Take a look and discover how varied a career in networks could be.
Photo of Nathan Dickson
Photo of Nathan Dickson
Nathan Dickson
Network Engineer/Tester, BT
Key qualifications: BSc(Hons) DTS Software Engineering
What does your job involve? In my role I am responsible for testing and signing off new kit and systems that are planned to be deployed to the network. I enjoy the challenge and responsibility of making sure large numbers of customers aren't disconnected.
How did you get into your current role? I started at BT 4 years ago as an apprentice and loved every minute of it!
What did you want to be when you were younger? When I was 5 I told my mum I wanted to be a cowboy. At age 10 I wanted to be a scientist. At age 16 I wanted to work for BT!
What do you do outside work? Outside of work I am a scout leader and network member. I love kayaking, climbing and hiking with the family. I have a passion for tinkering and love all kinds of projects!
Photo of Fraser Burton
Photo of Fraser Burton
Fraser Burton
Senior Manager, Network Physics, BT
Key qualifications: A degree in Physics and a masters in Telecommunications
What does your job involve? I work out new ways to make telecommunications better, looking for exciting new science we can use in the network to make better services for our customers.
How did you get into your current role? I went to university and joined BT as a graduate. I started in the Research department and then spent thirty years doing loads of different types of jobs all over the company. I came back to the Research department to run all our university collaborations and then I was offered my dream job to do physics research again!
What did you want to be when you were younger? I have always wanted to be a mad scientist doing cool stuff that most people didn't believe would ever work, and now that's what I do.
What do you do outside work? When I can, I like to travel to strange and distant places. I climbed the Cordillera de la Sal, a mountain range made of salt where it never rains.
Photo of Simon Ringland
Photo of Simon Ringland
Simon Ringland
Senior Manager – Wi-Fi and In Home Networks Research, BT
Key qualifications: Bachelors degree in Electrical Sciences
What does your job involve? In my current role I get to lead a fantastic team of talented researchers looking at new developments in Wi-Fi and I work with leaders in Wi-Fi from around the world to set the next generation of Wi-Fi standards.
How did you get into your current role? I joined BT as a graduate straight from university, working in their research department. I worked for many years on developing speech recognition systems before moving into research on mobile applications and most recently Wi-Fi.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I always wanted to be either an engineer or an astronaut.
What do you do outside work? I love sailing and spend as much time as I can mucking about in boats.
5 - University of Bristol
Photo of Tom Bowman
Tom (host): Meet Reza from the University of Bristol who will take you through an introduction to quantum computers and how they're going to change the future of the internet.
Over to you, Reza...
Photo of Reza Nejabati
Photo of Reza Nejabati
Reza Nejabati
Professor in University of Bristol
Key qualifications: PhD, MSc, BSc
What does your job involve? Research and teaching in the areas of telecommunication and Internet technologies.
How did you get into your current role? After my PhD, I started to work at the university as a researcher and then progressed my way to become an academic.
What did you want to be when you were younger? Scientist
What do you do outside work? When the weather allows, my BBQ is my hobby. I am very professional in it and always try to explore and invent new methods. I also spend time playing rugby, skiing and going to the gym with my two boys.
Photo of Reza Nejabati
Reza: I hope my video has inspired you to explore more about quantum computers and the quantum internet! We have had some questions submitted relating to this topic in the lead up to Norwich Science Festival which are answered below. However, if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Please email stemexpert@bt.com.
Questions and answers
Question:
What will quantum computers be used for?
student profile
Photo of Reza Nejabati
Answer:
Currently Quantum Computers are not like generic computers as they are only used for specific tasks. For example, specific quantum factoring using Shor's algorithm can be used to break encryption code.
Question:
What are the main challenges surrounding quantum computing?
Kesgrave High School
Photo of Reza Nejabati
Answer:
Typically quantum circuits in quantum computers operate at a temperature of 20 millikelvin, or about -273 degrees Celsius. This is therefore a major challenge to scale a quantum computer. John Martinis (the Head of Hardware Group behind Google's quantum computer) was famously quoted as saying the major challenge for scaling quantum computers is that they might need a "football-field sized millikelvin fridge".
Got a question? email stemexpert@bt.com
6 - Final thoughts from our hosts
7 - Related STEM learning content
These videos from our STEM learning programme are related to networks:
Delivering TV services over the internet
Suggested age range: 13+
Many digital services are now delivered over the Internet to phones, tablets, computers and smart TVs...
What is quantum key distribution?
Suggested age range: 16+
An introduction to Quantum Key distribution (QKD). What are quantum keys and how can we use them?
What is edge computing?
Suggested age range: 14+
An introduction to Edge, or Edge Computing, where processing is done at the edge of the network.
What is Wi-Fi?
Suggested age range: 14+
This video outlines some of the physics behind Wi-Fi, its position in the electromagnetic spectrum, factors that affect Wi-Fi signal strength and how it compares to cellular.
Day 2: Giving eyes to AI >