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BT Openreach Sets UK ISP Dark Fibre Access Trial for August 2017

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 (1:49 am) - Score 2,487
BT major fibre optic cable junction telephone exchange uk

Openreach (BT) has informed Ethernet offering ISPs that they intend to run a provision trial of their new Dark Fibre Access (DFA) product between August and September 2017, which is right before it’s officially due to launch on 1st October 2017.

The DFA product gives rival ISPs “physical access” to Openreach’s fibre optic cables (i.e. allows them to “take direct control of the connection“), which means that they can then install their own equipment at either end of the optical fibre within Openreach’s cable ducts.

Ofcom, which has been pushing for DFA since early 2016, believes that it could deliver both more market competition and speed-up the roll-out of faster broadband services around the UK (e.g. backhaul capacity to support new networks). However big infrastructure builders like BT, Virgin Media, Cityfibre and Zayo fear that it may discourage similar operators from investing to build their own fibre optic networks (here).

Never the less Openreach recently published their Final Draft Reference Offer for the product, which has been based off their 1Gbps capable Ethernet Access Direct (EAD) service (details). Naturally the next step will be to conduct a trial of the service and that will begin in August 2017, although exact dates have yet to be set (we expect this to be announced during May 2017).

ISPreview.co.uk has been informed that the trial, which will also involve raising faults in order to test the repair solution up to KCI2 (‘Keeping Customer Informed‘ – this reflects part of the early order journey), will be made available to the first 10 ISPs who register. On top of that it will be limited in availability to the cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool only.

NOTE: It’s important not to confuse DFA with Ofcom’s wholesale Duct and Pole Access (DPA) remedy, which will give rivals access to install their own cables via Openreach’s underground cable ducts and telegraph poles (i.e. two different sides of the same coin). Cityfibre and others welcome DPA, even if a few of them have had trouble using it (here and here).

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Rog

    So could Virgin Media come back with their off network service and use FTTC where they used ADSL before? Or does it have to be someone already in the FTTC market?

    • Avatar Matthew Skipsey

      Not sure I get your question, but this product is the business/infrastructure type fibre, just provided without any active equipment on either end of it. It therefore allows you to light it up yourself.

      So you pay a rate for the dark fibre to BT, and then it’s your cost on whether you light it up at 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s, 1Gb/s, 10Gb/s, 40Gb/s or 100Gb/s, or indeed put some DWDM kit on either end and run multiple 10Gb/s etc.
      BT won’t charge you extra to light it up to 10Gb compared to 100Mb, as they do with their active EAD product.
      You need to pay for, run, support manage this active kit.

      This product is essentially their EAD product but without the active kit on the ends.
      It’s priced similar, minus the active kit.
      It still has the distance limitations, main link charges, and other EAD gotchas.

      This will be useful to those looking at much higher bandwidths.
      Those that want to use their own kit on either end.
      Those with layer one fibre experience.
      Those that can better automate network provision by using their own gear.
      Those who want to splice/patch onto other fibre without active kit where BT handoff.
      Those who want to use a better/more capable NTE than BT provide.
      etc..

      It has it’s place.

    • Avatar Chris P

      @ Mathew
      A very very niche place

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