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SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Three UK and O2 Grow London Fibre Network

Friday, September 28th, 2018 (10:52 am) - Score 3,715
london square mile uk

Mobile operators Three UK and O2 have moved to improve the data capacity of their 3G, 4G and future 5G mobile networks in London by signing a new agreement with SSE Enterprise Telecoms. Under this deal the latter will use its high-capacity fibre optic ring in central London to help link up cell sites.

At present both EE (BT) and Vodafone already have a fair bit of fibre optic connectivity that they can use thanks to their existing fixed line networks. By comparison both O2 and Three UK are mobile-only networks, which lack the same fixed line connectivity. Nevertheless both operators still need capacity to fuel the growing demands of their customers and to support future ultrafast 5G mobile and fixed wireless broadband services.

Meanwhile SSE Enterprise Telecoms already has a fibre optic network in central London and at the end of 2017 they moved to expand this via a new access agreement with Thames Water (here), which enabled them to extend their fibre optic Ethernet / data network by laying new cables through underground sewers.

The Fibre-in-the-Sewers (FITS) approach has enabled the company to “create new fibre networks in key locations at a lower cost and with faster deployment times than traditional digs.” The new deal means that SSE Enterprise Telecoms will harness this network to establish approximately 100 points of connectivity, which will exit from their central London sewer network via two BT Exchanges.

As a result Three UK and O2 will be able to operate their own Central London Area (CLA) network, while also accessing spare fibre ducts for future initiatives in London.

Colin Sempill, MD of SSE Enterprise Telecoms, said:

“Networks will fundamentally underpin the UK’s digital economy and will be essential to 5G services. With this high capacity core in the London sewers, Three UK and O2 are tapping into our unique, diverse connectivity and putting their networks in a strong position to trial 5G offerings, while enhancing existing services for their customers.”

Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK, said:

“New and innovative models are essential to improving the customer experience of mobile networks by increasing the availability of dark fibre for mobile backhaul and driving competition in the market. Our partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms and O2 is one of the first examples of using existing infrastructure to improve connectivity in an urban area.”

Brendan O’Reilly, CTO of O2. added:

“This kind of agreement is essential to allow for continued investment and improvement of services for our customers. This partnership is a great example of SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Three UK and O2 coming together in a collaborative and innovative way to address the growing challenge and pressure of obtaining access to fibre for mobile backhaul in the UK.”

Currently we don’t expect to see the first large-scale commercial deployments of true 5G mobile technology begin until 2020, although major 5G trials are due to start next month and a limited commercial deployment of 5G based Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) style connectivity should start later in 2019 (EE).

Operators are clearly busy making sure that they have the capacity necessary to feed these new multi-Gigabit capable networks.

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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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