A Bristol-based startup called Optic Networks (UK) Ltd. has today floated their ambition to roll-out a new 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable fibre optic broadband network in the United Kingdom, which would aim to serve “large areas of tenanted and owned high rise multi dwelling units.”
Under the tentative plan Optic Networks would aim to deploy this new 10Gbps (2.5Gbps upload) service via XG-PON technology to parts of 10 UK cities over the space of 5 years, with their homes passed rate being based on a scenario of a minimum 30% penetration rate (2,387 subscribers) out of 7,956 homes passed per city.
The little known business is headed up by two Directors, Bob Snowden and Richard Harris, both of which claim to have a combined 57 years in “delivering huge fibre optic network infrastructure projects across Europe“. Certainly Richard Harris has some experience because he’s been the director of JRC Communications since 2011, which is another Bristol based contractor for fibre optic / cable installation work.
We’re a bit less familiar with Bob Snowden, although Companies House confirms that he has recently held Directorship positions at GPON LTD and OSP NETWORKS LTD and both of those companies were dissolved last year.
Optic Networks (UK) Statement
The market for true fibre broadband Internet connections is wide open. Demand for traditional broadband connections is surpassing conservative forecasts. The fibre optic market is even more exciting due to the significantly lower costs needed in terms of delivery infrastructure within building out multi dwelling units. Unlike traditional fibre to the home [FTTH] projects we cut out around 60% of the construction/civil work giving us a quicker return on the asset.
As Optic Networks’ customer base grows costs decrease through scales of economy creating an even more compelling argument for Optic Networks’ existence. Optic Networks has targeted three distinct groups to cut back on build costs. The first is try utilise local data centres, carrier neutral, a key driver for co-location and lower costs for bandwidth.
The second is purchasing duct space from incumbent infrastructure asset owners of readily built networks, having already spoken to national asset owners with infrastructure in the cities we’re looking to deploy. From the duct infrastructure of a 110mm pipe Optic Networks only require space to install a 14/18mm secondary duct for our fibre. A 288 fibre mini cable can then be blown into the duct ready for connectivity. Cable chambers will be then built adjacent to the incumbent supplier’s infrastructure, which will then give us a completely segregated network.
The third is getting your infrastructure as close to as many multi dwelling units where there are more than 96 occupiers in each block, 96 being the worst case lower number. The more occupiers there are in a building the less per home it costs to build and we know this from experience as this is what we currently do. People living in the city do tend to have more of a disposable income, which is a great target market for Optic Networks as they are then closer to technology to use the internet much more.
The website for Optic Networks suggests that they’re more focused on the civils side, which is despite the PR spin appearing to claim that they intend to both build and run the network. However they do claim to have partnered up with telecoms operator AQL, which specialises in supplying wholesale access via fixed and mobile networks to government, enterprise and innovators.
At least one problem with this ambition might be the lack of money. Indeed Optic Networks are asking “people and businesses to pledge whatever they can for this state of the art broadband infrastructure,” which they appear to say could be done via way of early seed funding (i.e. investing capital in exchange for an equity stake in the company).
At this point it would be useful to know a few more details (e.g. early roll-out locations) about their deployment and product plans, although apparently this couldn’t be included because it’s “commercially sensitive.” We can understand that (Cityfibre, Hyperoptic, BT, Virgin Media and a few others are also deploying FTTP/H/B into the same market) but the lack of detail might also make it harder to raise investment and credibility.
Only time will tell whether Optic Networks fizzles out or manages to grow beyond their ambitions. In the meantime having a little more meat on the bone would certainly help. Building pure fibre optic networks is an expensive and time consuming business.