When asked to think of a BT landmark, most people would probably say London's BT Tower but there are actually many more facilities scattered around the world. One of them that isn’t quite as well-known but which plays a big role in innovation for BT and several other companies is Adastral Park.
Adastral Park has been around since 1975 but when it was opened by the Queen on November 21st, which you can check out in the video below from BT Archives. But what is Adastral Park and why is it so important?
What is Adastral Park?
Adastral Park is BT’s main research and development headquarters, located just outside Ipswich. Much of BT’s technology is created and tested at this site by the BT Labs team, such as the newest fibre-based technologies which have been deployed across the UK by Openreach.
But Adastral Park isn’t only home to BT. Companies such as Fujitsu, Huawei and Cisco are just a handful of the big names you’ll find researching and developing the very latest innovations there too. There are more than 70 different technology companies in total, ranging from the well-known to smaller start-ups.
The 100-acre site has around 4,000 scientists, IT experts and engineers in total.
When was Adastral Park opened?
Adastral Park was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on November 21, 1975. However, back then Adastral Park was known as the Post Office Research Station, as BT was a part of the General Post Office. To begin with, research largely focused on developing telecommunications.
Where is Adastral Park?
Adastral Park is located in Suffolk, in the Martlesham Heath area near Ipswich.
The site was previously home to the Royal Air Force - RAF Martlesham Heath - where some experimental aircraft tests took place.
Adastral Park took its name from the Royal Air Force’s motto ‘Per ardua ad astra’, which means ‘Through adversity to the stars’.
What’s been developed at Adastral Park?
Innovation is continuously been developed from Adastral Park. Pioneering trials of ultrafast G.fast technology have been carried out at Adastral, as well as even more advanced technology known as XG-FAST.
Researchers on XG-FAST have already managed to deliver speeds of up to 5.6Gbps over copper.
Back in 1984, the first 140Mbps commercial optical fibre link was made at Adastral Park, while in 1999 the mobile network BT Cellent was able to make the first live data call over GPRS.
At the recent New Scientist Live show in London, BT was showcasing some it’s current and future technical innovations, many of which were developed in Adastral Park.
Robotic Arm - the future of surgery?