Open Fibre Infrastructure

In Blog by Concept Solutions People

A number of companies are building Fibre-to-the-Premises Infrastructure, but they are all building for themselves, not with the best outcomes for the customer in mind. There is a better way as Richard Auld describes.

In late 2018 we have a number of large and small telecoms companies planning to construct fibre-optic infrastructure to deliver Fibre-to-the-Premises. The problem with all of these plans is that the infrastructure is built for a specific network operator or carrier. Even Openreach (with Open in its name) only offers carriers and service providers open access to services, not the infrastructure. This leads to the following scenarios:
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At home we can buy broadband from a huge range of ISPs, but they are all offering products which are determined by the network operator’s strategy, investment and operations. We have no choice. All the offerings rely on a slightly corroded mixture of copper and aluminium from our house or offices to the cabinet which may be 100m to over 1,000m away. The distance from the cabinet determines the bandwidth available.

The fibre is here, in this cabinet, but unfortunately not in my house.

 
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Even if the network operator has connected our building with fibre, the only way we can get real choice is if someone builds a whole new network past the door. This is costly and wasteful of existing investment in duct infrastructure. Also, it does not guarantee that I have any choice of service over that new fibre infrastructure, or that any other Service Provider can use it.

In the diagram above, the house has access to multiple ISPs via Openreach, or a new competitor using their own infrastructure, so still really only a choice of two technologies.

We are currently in the middle of a house-building boom, yet no-one has thought of a better way to provide an infrastructure that will perform for the rest of the century, so here is my suggestion:

Every new housing estate (and Business Park) should have a requirement to provide an Open Fibre Infrastructure when it is built. The builder can incorporate a duct and some chambers easily and at very little cost during the build. Each house will have its own mini duct to a utilities cupboard inside. The network will terminate in a number of street cabinets where interconnects with existing fibre can be easily made. The design and implementation will be supervised by the Open Fibre Infrastructure managing agent.

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This approach separates the active networks from the infrastructure to achieve a truly open, flexible and dynamic environment for Service Providers, large and small, national and local. Carriers – including Openreach, Virgin, Vodafone, Talk Talk and hundreds of smaller ISPs – can rent a fibre to the premises they have a contract with, but householders can choose from different ISPs. Because the fibre is dedicated to an ISP the range of services depends not on Openreach’s, CityFibre’s or Virgin’s strategy, but on each individual ISP’s. In future we may have more organisations than ISPs wanting dedicated fibre to provide a whole range of Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications.

Local Authorities should mandate this type of infrastructure in new housing and business developments because it drives choice, development of newer, faster, more cost-effective services and innovation. Ultimately jobs will flow to areas with this infrastructure, providing more income via business rates. Local Government will also benefit from simple, low cost access to fibre for signs, bus stop information, traffic light co-ordination, free public WiFi, air quality monitoring and more things to come that automate and improve our public services and reduce their costs.

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Multiple operators' fibre in a single duct infrastructure.

But who will design, build and support this infrastructure?

It is best suited to an infrastructure specialist, like Concept Solutions People. One that is not an active network operator. One which can install fibre, manage network extensions, repair faults and treat every carrier, ISP, Local Authority or Service Provider equally, managing the space in the duct and the cabinets and delivering a truly Open Fibre Infrastructure suitable for the 21st Century.

The benefits of an Open Fibre Infrastructure to Local Authorities are:

  • Ensures cost-effective Fibre-to-the-Premises Infrastructure is delivered by incorporating into the development plan.
  • Provides fibre access for Local Authority use through shared, neutral infrastructure.
  • Demonstrates prudent use of finances and maximum return on investment.
  • Provides for maximum competition and therefore residential and business benefit from choice of suppliers.
  • Attracts new high-tech businesses through variety of fibre connectivity options.