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SSE Warn Openreach’s Filter Connect is “inadequate alternative” to Dark Fibre

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 (11:30 am) - Score 1,585
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The Chief Network Architect for SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Conrad Mallon, has claimed that Openreach’s new OSA Filter Connect (virtual dark fibre) product is an “inadequate alternative” to Ofcom’s push for the Dark Fibre Access (DFA) solution that was cancelled following BT’s legal challenge.

Openreach were originally due to launch the proposed DFA product in October, which would have allowed UK ISPs to gain “physical access” to the operator’s existing fibre optic cables (i.e. enabling them to install their own equipment at either end of the fibre within cable ducts). But this was cancelled after BT won a legal challenge against the incorrect market definitions that Ofcom had adopted in their 2016 business connectivity review (here).

Ofcom is currently still considering how to react and in the meantime Openreach has thrown a spanner into the works by unveiling their new Optical Spectrum Access (OSA) product for ISPs called Filter Connect (here), which is a kind of virtual or grey dark fibre style alternative product. Openreach view this as being both a competitively priced and flexible solution.

Openreach also claimed that the new OSA FSP3000 service was given a positive reception by at least some operators, although one of those that had hoped to be using the original DFA solution (SSE Enterprise Telecoms) appears to disagree.

Conrad Mallon, SSE’s Chief Network Architect, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“The Openreach announcement promoting an alternative to full Dark Fibre Access (DFA) does not address the industry’s concern. Following Ofcom’s ruling in 2016 that providers should be able to gain physical access to Openreach’s existing fibre optic cables, and the subsequent Competition Appeals Tribunal ruling, Openreach had promised to provide a solution that meets the needs of the market.

However, the result of that promise – Optical Spectrum Access ‘Filter Connect’ – is a patchwork alternative that meets neither the needs of customers, nor the need to increase competition to open up the telecoms access market in the United Kingdom.

We believe the DFA ruling will go ahead, and needs to go ahead, because ultimately it offers a solution to the connectivity challenges being faced by UK businesses. If this means that Ofcom needs to address some of the issues raised by BT/Openreach at the recent hearing, then this should be completed promptly and robustly to ensure the outcome serves the market, by offering choice, value and scale for customers.

In the meantime, SSE Enterprise Telecoms continues to pursue innovative, alternative means of meeting the connectivity needs of customers.”

Openreach are currently consulting on the new service until 18th November and if all goes well then they hope to publish a final outcome by the end of December 2017, which could result in the product being launched during Q1 2018/19. Sadly SSE did not provide any examples of where the new service is deemed to be “inadequate” vs DFA, but we have asked.

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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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5 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris P

    Maybe SSE should start building their own ducts and sticking fibre down it?
    Maybe they can use the ducts their electric cables go through (or is that some national grid thing?)?

    • Avatar In The Know

      What exactly do you think their network is built on you utter tool?? The BT access is to enhance their coverage and save on the crippling costs and red tape that block organic network builds on this 3rd world island.

    • Avatar Chris P

      @In The Know

      Thats rude, but then you are the regular troll around here just using yet another name, sigh.

      so you think sse are using their own existing electrical ducts for putting fibre cables down, but want to also mandate the use of their BT competitors ducts for their own benefit, & no mention of using VM or C&W’s (now VF) extensive uk duct network?

      You must be that be that blunt rusted knackered old tool in the box, no good for anything.

  2. Avatar New_Londoner

    Interesting quote, who knew that Conrad Mallon, SSE’s Chief Network Architect, was a spokesman for the industry rather than just for SSE.

  3. I think it is important that all service providers air their views. Unless of course we are happy for the UK to continue to lag behind many other countries in development and innovation for high speed network services for industry as well as personal use. Until BT Openreach are forced to release their strangle hold on advancement of the UK connectivity market, we all suffer in the long term. Come on Ofcom show us what you are made of. Well done Conrad.

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