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Openreach’s UK Dark Fibre Alternative to Launch 3rd April 2018

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 3,636
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Openreach’s new Optical Spectrum Access product (OSA Filter Connect / FSP3000), which has been created as a sort of soft alternative to Ofcom’s stalled Dark Fibre Access (DFA) solution, will officially be made available to ISPs from 3rd April 2018 and initially offer data speeds of around 10-20Gbps.

The operator was originally due to launch a DFA product last year, which would have enabled rivals to gain “physical access” to Openreach’s existing fibre optic cables (i.e. allowing them to install their own equipment at either end of a fibre within cable ducts). But this plan was cancelled after BT won a legal challenge against Ofcom’s “incorrect” market definitions (here) and as a result the regulator is currently having to re-run their Business Connectivity Review (i.e. they’ll try DFA again).

In the meantime Openreach has prepared a new OSA Filter Connect product, which is a kind of virtual (grey) dark fibre style solution where ISPs connect their own active equipment alongside managed wavelengths on a common OSA bearer (here). Some ISPs see this as being an “inadequate alternative” to Ofcom’s DFA proposal (here) but others have shown more interest.

At the time we only knew that the service would launch around Q1 2018/19 and that its cost would be similar to a base OSA FSP3000 10Gbps configuration. This week Openreach has confirmed that the new service will launch on 3rd April 2018 and its pricing is cheaper than expected.

OSA Filter Connect FSP 3000 (base build options)

Product

Minimum Period

Connection

£ Exc VAT

Rental per annum

£ Exc VAT

OSA Filter Connect FSP3000 – 12 month

12 month

£15,550

£7,845

OSA Filter Connect FSP3000 – 36 month

36 month

£12,233

£6,276

OSA Filter Connect FSP3000 – 60 month

60 month

£12,233

£5,775

The above base build minimum period options include dual fibre working capability, a 1U chassis, an 8 wavelength (8CSM) filter, and a 10Gb (20Gb ready) dual port core card. No resilience is provided on the base build. Further details can be found here and it is being supported by a useful reduction in Openreach’s OSA Main Link charges. Apparently an XG210 variant of this is also targeted to launch around late May 2018 (details in prior link).

However we suspect that a number of providers will wait to see whether Ofcom can reintroduce DFA and no doubt they will meet some opposition. Big infrastructure builders like BT, Virgin Media, Cityfibre and Zayo have all previously warned that DFA could discourage investment in the construction of new fibre optic networks, although it’s possible that a less dramatic market definition from Ofcom may reduce those gripes.

NOTE: As a managed Openreach service, comms providers will be able to scale up to 3.1Tb. The network provider also sells additional wavelength cards that allow CPs to scale in an Openreach managed way too. We should also point out that the price of incremental Wavelength sales reflects £1,216 for connection with £429 rental.

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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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