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Openreach Test Duct Overlay to Help Physical Infrastructure Access

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 (12:51 pm) - Score 11,544
rural_cable_duct_fttp_openreach

Openreach has announced a new ‘Proof of Concept‘ (PoC) to test a change to the current Network Adjustment process in their Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product, which could help alternative UK network ISPs to more efficiently rollout new FTTP broadband networks via Duct Overlay.

As most readers will probably know, PIA is all about giving rival networks access to run their own fibre optic cables through or over Openreach’s existing cable ducts and poles. One part of this is the Network Adjustment process, where Openreach are required to make their network useable (e.g. repairing / clearing out duct blockages or decluttering poles to relieve congestion) in specific permitted circumstances.

The existing Network Adjustment process has previously been described by altnets as being too “clunky” and “inefficient” (here and here), although work is on-going to improve these aspects and the new PoC appears to be one of the latest outputs from that effort.

Openreach’s limited public briefing states, “This PoC is to test changes to the current Network Adjustment process where it is identified that duct overlay is more efficient and cost effective than undertaking repair on spine duct” (Ofcom doesn’t currently require them to implement this, but they are using the PoC to assess its viability following feedback from altnets).

From time-to-time altnets will come across severely damaged sections of duct, which may be prohibitively expensive to repair. As a result, it’s not uncommon for operators to work around this by overlaying the damaged section with their own duct, which is also a costly endeavour and carries the catch that the new duct will not be open for other operators to use. In some areas this can result in an awkward patchwork of different ducts between PIA sections.

The PoC appears to indicate an approach where the new duct could be built for Openreach, using funds from the blockage budget. In theory, this would appear to be a quicker and more efficient approach, which may bring cost savings and ensure that the benefits of such work can be shared. However, this doesn’t appear to extend to situations where new duct has to be built because the existing ducts are full (as opposed to blocked / damaged).

UPDATE 5:12pm

Openreach has informed us that this PoC doesn’t go live until 2nd February 2021.

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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.
Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Nigel Nangreave says:

    Towards the end of November our phone line and broadband with talk talk went dead, this caused us business and domestic problems. A few days later we had some sales literature cothrough the letterbox from BT regarding super fast fibre optic, we agreed to go ahead and were told that bt would contact our provider etc. The engineer from Kelly communications came out and couldn’t do it . Bt informed us that we didn’t have to contact talk talk as bt would do it for us. This was not the case and so the problem continues, we were given a date for beginning of January to have bt fibre optic and a tempory hotspot however still no landline. I have missed crucial hospital appointments due to the line being dead and so had to rebook. I am living in constant pain and am so disappointed with the way in which we have been messed around by BT staff or strategic campaign. I want this sorted within the next few days. I dont need an explanation , simply treated with respect. Please sort this out…………

    1. Danny says:

      Give the hospital and Dr’s your mobile number as a secondary line if your lines dead it won’t ring so they’ll then call your mobile phone:)

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      This is off-topic from the news article above.

  2. David says:

    Problem is if the person doesnt have a mobile phone, as this is something I come scross most days

  3. jb says:

    Our society should start thinking about telco/internet service as critical to their everyday life just like gas & electricity is. If the boiler breaks you probably have set of electric radiators to keep you going through cold night until boiler is fixed or have torch to see in the dark etc.

    1. Mark says:

      Remember not everybody has mobile phone coverage. If I lose broadband and phone its nearly a 3 mile drive to get a data signal, and good phone signal, so no amount of pressure planning helps.

    2. Paul M says:

      Wired phones used to be considered as a vital primary service. Unfortunately BT seem to think that mobile phones are a perfectly good substitute, when for many rural people they’re no use at all.

  4. chris conder says:

    haha, so now the public purse has to repair the obsolete ducts too? by gum OR are very good at this aren’t they? the amount of income they have had over this last decade alone is enough to do their own repairs. #superfarce

  5. BILL HOLDER says:

    Openreach should allow others ISPs to install fibre on poles and ducts, if openreach doesnt want to do it, why cant we do it?

    1. Richard Auld says:

      It does allow this and over 100 companies are signed up to it.

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