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NextGenAccess UK Moots Rural Fibre Broadband Expansion for SMEs

Friday, May 20th, 2016 (10:50 am) - Score 503
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London-based ISP NextGenAccess has hinted at plans to expand its fibre optic based broadband network into more areas that are currently outside the coverage of the BT’s UK FTTC/P roll-out, with a particular reference being made to “rural areas and non-city centre data centres and technology hubs.”

At present the provider already claims to have its kit and cables connected via “57 Exchange street cabinets across the UK with the ability to serve over 600,000 premises with either copper or fibre services” (everything from DSL to Dark Fibre), which includes the ability to “provide our own sub duct and fibre in the Openreach network.”

The ISP also claims to have their own subcontractors, which can deliver “bespoke large scale fibre projects quickly without the reliance on BT.” All of this sounds like a mix of LLU, Sub Loop Unbundling (SLU) and Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA), although we’ve not heard about NextGenAccess before today.

Never the less it looks like they could be planning for a significant network expansion, at least that’s the impression we get from the provider’s application for Code Powers from Ofcom (i.e. quicker / easier approval of civil works).

Code Powers Submission (Extract)

It now plans on expanding this network from copper-based to other technologies, including FTTP and FTTH. This will allow for services that can support high bandwidth and will enable big data usage in areas which are currently outside of the coverage of the BT superfast broadband rollout and other smaller service providers (in particular, in rural areas and non-city centre data centres and technology hubs). It has explained that its network will provide services with superfast and even ultrafast speeds, up to 10GB/s.

It explained that its initial phase of expansion will include the installation of economic high-speed fibre to its existing cabinets in order to have the core backbone network ready to deliver ultrafast services, as well as the delivery of ‘last-mile fibre’ (i.e. FTTP) in some areas, including for large scale rural broadband. The Applicant has suggested that it would utilise simplified delivery methods for the ‘last-mile’ fibre delivery in order to avoid the delays experienced by a number of other operators when deploying fibre.

[NextGenAccess] explained that its fibre delivery network will utilise existing duct and infrastructure, wherever possible, including sewer ducts and BT Openreach’s PIA product. However, in some places, it explained that it may nevertheless need to carry out its own works in order to construct its own fibre network.

The Applicant has explained that a key sector that is currently under serviced by BT and the current BDUK broadband rollout is SMEs. As a result, it has previously deployed bespoke FTTP solutions to customers in areas whose options are limited to standard broadband or expensive dedicated fibre services and will continue to do so if it obtains Code powers. According to the Applicant, this has allowed businesses served by its network to receive reliable high-speed internet services with speeds of 50Mb/50Mb at an affordable price.

NextGenAccess is predominantly focused upon catering for Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SME), although it does also cater for some residential consumers within its network footprint. For example, they’re currently deploying into a small rural hamlet in Hertfordshire (England), where it intends to deliver 100Mbps+ business grade connectivity for a local charity. However the network will also cater for other local residents in the same area.

As usual Ofcom has proposed to grant the code powers and opened a public consultation. Mind you it should be said that such applications are often written in an overly optimistic way in order to make them seem as attractive as possible for the regulator to wave through.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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