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Openreach Selects ADTRAN as 3rd Strategic UK FTTP Supplier

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 (12:08 pm) - Score 3,929
fibre optic night cable openreach

Openreach (BT) has today announced that they’ve selected ADTRAN’s Software-Defined Fibre Access Platform to help support the roll-out of their new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network, which means they’ll become the operator’s third strategic supplier after Nokia and Huawei (plus some old ECI kit).

At present Openreach’s “full fibre” network, which already covers 2.6 million UK premises (rising to 4.5m by March 2021), is being backed by an investment of £12bn to reach a total of around 20 million homes and businesses by the “mid – to late-2020s” (here).

Until recently Huawei were playing the main role in all of this but the Government’s decision (here) to place a cap on such involvement (BT expects to take a hit of £500m from that) has perhaps helped to fuel a desire by Openreach to find an additional supplier. The solution appears to have been found in ADTRAN, which is already a familiar name in the UK (many alternative network ISPs are using their kit).

Under the deal ADTRAN’s SDX Series of Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) and their Mosaic Cloud Platform will be deployed by Openreach to help achieve its ambition of making “gigabit and multi-gigabit” services available to 20 million “homes“. The mention of multi-gigabit in the same sentence as homes is interesting, but they could equally be referencing network capacity (we do eventually expect multi-gigabit packages though).

Peter Bell, Openreach’s Network Technologies Director, said:

“We’re already making our new ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband network available to around 32,000 UK homes and businesses every week – and we’re on track to reach our target of reaching four and a half million premises with ‘Full Fibre’ by the end of March 2021.

But we don’t want to stop there. Our new network will support the UK’s economy for decades to come and help it bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic, so we’ll be accelerating our Full Fibre build throughout the year. ADTRAN’s solutions will play a key role in helping us achieve that as we’re continually searching for innovative technologies that can help us build the network better, broader and faster for our customers.”

Dan Whalen, ADTRAN’s Chief Product Officer, said:

“ADTRAN is thrilled to be part of Openreach’s plan to upgrade the UK’s broadband infrastructure and the selection is a proof point that ADTRAN’s open, disaggregated approach to service creation and delivery is a blueprint for the telecommunications industry.

Given the breadth of Openreach’s Full Fibre network, having the ability to deliver GPON and XGS-PON services from the same OLT port streamlines service delivery and reduces the complexity of network design. We make it possible for any service provider, based anywhere in the country, to have the service options they require to fit their customer’s needs.”

The ADTRAN kit they’ve chosen is claimed to deliver the industry’s highest OLT port density per rack, which is a nice bonus and should make it easier to economically scale the growth of their GPON and XGSPON platforms. Major operators always like to have some diversity in their supply and Openreach certainly have that now.

Adding a third major vendor could also help to bring down Openreach’s costs through competition, although mixing lots of different kit from different vendors can sometimes lead to long-term differences in performance and capability (e.g. the turbulent history of ECI in parts of their network).

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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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12 Responses
  1. joe says:

    (e.g. the turbulent history of ECI in parts of their network).

    The nature of fib at least means we’re unlikely to get into the sort of issues that ECI had with copper.

    1. joe says:

      Sure I had though about that issue but as you’re article correctly points out the #s are very small.

      Nothing is perfect

  2. Chris Sayers says:

    I’ve been waiting for an article to come up to ask this question, and I think this is a close a match as I am going to get.

    Peter Bell, Openreach’s Network Technologies Director Stated above “ultra-reliable broadband network”, which technology is the most reliable, FTTP or Virgin Media using coax cable for the last mile, the reason I ask, I have recently learned that our street FTTP will be deployed by OR, (I have stated here in the past that it did not seem like we were going to get FTTP, due to OR deployment maps)

    When we get FTTP, knowing which technology is on average more reliable than the other would assist in making a decision.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      The underlying technology is only part of what you have to consider for reliability, since there’s also the ISP’s own core network and your home setup to factor. Generally I would say that FTTP is more reliable than Hybrid Fibre Coax, but there are different gauges for reliability and true apples-to-apples comparisons can be tricky.

      Likewise experiences can vary from location to location and between different networks using the same technology.

    2. lexx says:

      problem i have with DOCSIS networks in general is no QOS is used on the upstream when capacity is higher than 40-50% as it tends to far apart past 60% (downstream does not need to be as its limited by the FTTn node rate it can actually send it, upstream has to compete with others who are trying to send data)

      FTTP and VDSL is overall more data Realable but VDSL is limited by distance for speed

      then DOCSIS (witch priorities speed over packet reliability due to lack of QOS witch is annoying if your in that small street area that has upstream congested)

    3. NE555 says:

      With Openreach FTTP you get a choice of ISPs, offering different levels of service and reliability. With Virgin Media you get only one – at least, until some possible time in the future when they start to wholesale.

      With Openreach FTTP you can currently get much faster upload speeds: 1000/110 (at consumer-friendly pricing) or 1000/220 (expensive). Virgin is limited to 50Mbps, until they make changes to their network to enable faster uploads.

      It is possible that Virgin’s cable network is more heavily contended/oversubscribed than Openreach FTTP, at least in certain areas.

    4. CarlT says:

      ‘problem i have with DOCSIS networks in general is no QOS is used on the upstream when capacity is higher than 40-50% as it tends to far apart past 60% (downstream does not need to be as its limited by the FTTn node rate it can actually send it, upstream has to compete with others who are trying to send data)’

      That’s very out of date. Upstream utilisation can go way, way higher than 60% now before latency issues are notable and there’s QoS.

      Upstream on Openreach FTTP also has to compete with others who are trying to send data, there’s just more capacity. If they were selling symmetrical gigabit over the GPON network as some do you’d see throughput issues.

      Downstream does need to be and is rate limited in cable networks. It’s also QoS’d.

  3. Chris sayers says:

    @Mark Jackson,@lexx,@NE555,@CarlT, thank you all for your responses and insights, very helpful, The other thing, how does latency and packet loss compare against FTTP (and as Mark quite rightly says) Hybrid Fibre Coax compare, I’ve just re-read all your responses and I think I know the answer.

    1. CarlT says:

      FTTP wins on both over HFC/DoCSIS for right now.

  4. Scottishtimetraveller says:

    Interesting breaking news about BT selling a stake in OR – might help the FTTP rollout gather pace over next 4-5 years?

    1. joe says:

      Nah. Its about the funding not the speed.

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