Openreach (BT) has today expanded their supplier agreement with Finnish telecoms giant Nokia to include GPON and XGS-PON based fibre access technologies, which will support their UK roll-out of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP technology and make 10Gbps symmetrical speeds possible in the “future.”
At present Openreach’s “full fibre” network already covers 2.6 million UK homes and businesses (rising to 4.5 million by March 2021) and they’ve recently proposed to invest £12bn in order to reach a total of around 20 million homes and businesses by the “mid – to late-2020s” (here).
Most of the kit for their existing FTTP network has come from Chinese firm Huawei, with some older infrastructure also coming from ECI. On top of that they’ve recently selected ADTRAN‘s Software-Defined (SD) Fibre Access Platform to help support their deployment plans (here), which included their SDX Series of Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) and the Mosaic Cloud Platform.
The new deal with Nokia is intended to complement all that. As part of this deal Openreach will look to deploy the Finnish firms own fibre access solution, which includes the 7360 Intelligent Service Access Manager (ISMA) FX, 7362 ISAM DF and the ISAM ONTs (Optical Network Terminals – these are usually found inside your home on the wall, pictured top).
We don’t know exactly which model of Nokia ONT Openreach will be using, although their current standard 7368 unit (pictured) has a clever twist. The device includes ONTs with a VDSL2 or G.Fast port, which means the ONT can “reuse the last meters of copper eliminating the cost of installing fibre in the home” (potentially a cost saving but FTTdp solutions can be tricky).
Nokia’s solution also supports a smooth evolution from current traditional deployments to virtualized access-network control and management (SDAN – Software Defined Access Networking) by software upgrade.
Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said:
“We’re accelerating our full fibre build to deliver an ultrafast, ultra-reliable and futureproof broadband network throughout the UK. This new digital platform will help our economy to bounce back more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic – enabling people to continue work from home, and millions of businesses to operate seamlessly online for decades to come. Right now, we’re making the new network available to around 32,000 homes and businesses every week, and Nokia’s innovative solutions are helping us to build it better, broader and faster. Our partnership with Nokia will be critical in helping us to upgrade the nation and hit our target of reaching four and a half million premises by the end of March 2021.”
Sandra Motley, President of Fixed Networks at Nokia, said:
“Ensuring everybody has access to broadband services is critical, especially during unprecedented times like these where it has become the lifeline to millions working, handling healthcare and learning from home. Our fiber solutions will help Openreach bring enhanced ultra-broadband services to millions of new customers across the UK today while our 10G PON technology will help to futureproof their network against whatever may come next.”
On top of that the new kit will be capable of 10Gbps symmetrical speeds (same upload and download rate), although some of Huawei’s kit being used today can also handle that but extending this to the ONT is new. Admittedly Openreach don’t even have 1Gbps symmetrical connections via FTTP yet (trials are planned but only for SME products), but it’s good to see them planning for future requirements.
At this point it probably goes without saying that the Government’s decision in early 2020 (here) to place a cap on Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s national telecoms infrastructure (BT expects to take a hit of £500m from this) has perhaps helped to fuel a desire by Openreach to find additional suppliers.
We are currently putting a few questions to Openreach about the copper ONT aspect mentioned above and will report back.