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Openreach Appoint CommScope to Help FTTP Broadband Rollout

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 (1:00 pm) - Score 5,328
CommScope-Pole-Mounted-CBT-FTTP

Openreach (BT) has announced that they’ve invested in infrastructure provider CommScope to supply new technology (e.g. closures and terminals) that will help to boost their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network, which aims to cover 25 million UK premises by December 2026 (at a cost of c.£15 billion).

At present, Openreach’s network has already covered 4.8 million premises (1.9 million were added during 2020/21) and they’re now starting to ramp-up in order to meet the new target, which is expected to see them reach an impressive peak build rate of 4 million premises a year (c.75,000 per week vs c.43,000 per week today).

The operator will thus be keen to try and simplify the complexities of deploying a full fibre network, while ideally reducing the potential for delays in the so-called “last mile” of deployment (e.g. traditional methods of placing and splicing fibre cables can take time). Likewise, some configuration changes could take weeks to complete as specialised crews may be required to setup, prepare cables and build splices etc.

As such, the operator has now opted to adopt CommScope’s “end-to-end modularNOVUX platform – the first public deployment of the technology in the UK, which they say has been “created specifically for Openreach’s build programme.”

In theory, the new closures and terminals, as well as supporting features and training, should mean fewer components within their full fibre network. As such, it should also enhance health and safety for engineers, with less time spent up poles. Naturally, there could also be a cost saving to all this, but it’s hard to say how big that might be.

Kevin Murphy, MD for Fibre and Network Delivery at Openreach, said:

“Building a new broadband network across the UK is a hugely complex, nationwide engineering project – second only to HS2 in terms of investment. It will help level-up the UK because the impact of Full Fibre broadband stretches from increased economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to higher employment and environmental benefits by enabling more home working and fewer commuting trips.

We place huge importance in our partner network and seek long-term and strategic collaborations. CommScope is a great example of this and this sustained partnership means we can be benefit from its teams’ skills and innovation to help us build Full Fibre even further.

We’re also delighted that CommScope share our belief in investing locally and the NOVUX technology manufactured in Wales will empower our engineers to overcome complex engineering challenges across the UK.”

As part of the Openreach collaboration, approximately 30-50 manufacturing engineers will be hired by CommScope in Rhyl, Wales. They will assemble Connectorised Block Terminals (CBT – like the one pictured), the fibre connection point where individual fibres connect to a premise’s main fibre cable (usually found on top of a telephone pole or within a chamber in the ground).

The announcement also states that Openreach are building full fibre “at lower cost and higher quality than anyone else in the UK,” although this claim is not substantiated. Indeed, you’d need to do an independent analysis of the build costs and methods for all c.90 or so of their other rivals before being able to prove it.

For example, community focused operators like B4RN can build much more cheaply due to their use of volunteers and pursuit of free wayleaves, while quality is a much more complicated and multi-faceted thing to correctly assess (i.e. it’s not just about what you deploy, but how you support and supply it etc.).

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4 Responses
  1. Bill G says:

    “at lower cost and higher quality than anyone else in the UK,”
    Well that might be true but in much of the UK BT has crushed opposition from tiny tiny players. In addition no one goes over their quotes with a fine toothcomb because the people who are paying for it such as local authorites would not know what to look for and how much item y should cost versus item x.
    As far as I could tell Openreach puts a quote in to do a job at say £1 million. It then charges a LA half the cost around £500k. But in reality the cost price of the job in labour and equipment could be £200k. And Kaching. No one is scrutinising. They just want fast connectivity in their area.
    I remember getting my hands on a BT quote to do a new install in a remote location. They were quoting cable at £8 per meter than I could buy at 50p per meter. And they would buy it by the km.

    1. Gary says:

      It’s easy to complain about inflated costs, sure there may well be an element of profiteering, but comparing a private purchase doesn’t allow for the fact large companies also need to pay warehouse and logistics staff and purchasing departments etc none of which is directly billed to a client. Yep they could sell the cable to you at cost but then they’d just ramp up the labour rate to cover it, My daily billable rate to a client seems insane, but it also has to cover all the back office staff etc.

    2. Ben says:

      Is that £8 per meter installed? It takes a lot of work in both planning and digging to bury cable.
      That said, I’d much rather buy the cable and bury it myself.

  2. Stephen says:

    Hopefully this means faster rollout my dsl checker now says 1000 down and 220 up but bt says we can’t order it yet despite being shown on both sites bt says there is no infrastructure how long does that normally take for them to upgrade the infrastructure and before I can upgrade? I already have full fibre I can get the full 330 down and 50 up the cabinet is right across the road from me

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