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ISP Virgin Media O2 Trial Recycled Materials in UK Fibre Rollout

Thursday, June 10th, 2021 (12:48 pm) - Score 3,120
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Broadband ISP and TV provider Virgin Media (VMO2) has announced the success of a new trial in the Scottish city of Glasgow, which managed to recycle the use of aggregate materials while rolling out their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network in the Cranhill area.

At present, the operator’s Project Lightning build has so far extended their fixed line network to cover over 2.6 million extra UK premises (well over 15 million total). The operator’s original network was deployed using Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) technology, but this expansion harnesses FTTP via Radio Frequency Over Glass (RFoG) – both methods make use of the DOCSIS standard to harness the same consumer hardware.

In addition, VMO2 is currently working on a plan that could see their full fibre network reach an extra 1 million premises “within 12 months of the merger closing” (total of c.16 million) and they also hold an “ambition” to then connect a further 7 million homes (here). Suffice to say, anything that could help to cut down the cost and waste of that process would be a welcome improvement.

Currently, the operator uses more than 100,000 tonnes of aggregate (basic building materials such as small stones etc.) each year as part of their Project Lightning network expansion programme – usually sourced from local quarries, but switching to recycled aggregate could save more than 450 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

The trial, which saw “sustainably sourced materials” undergo on-site testing and monitoring before being used, attempted to do just that, with support from both Glasgow City Council and the planning and design specialists, C-Plan.

Rob Evans, MD of Fixed Network Expansion at VMO2, said:

“In every area of our business, whether it’s through the design of our products, the way we operate, or the materials we use when we’re building new network, we’re constantly evolving to help in the fight against climate change.

This trial shows our commitment to doing things differently and reducing our environmental impact as we bring gigabit services to more homes and businesses on the streets of Glasgow and help to upgrade the UK.”

VMO2 has also been making use of other methods to help cut down on their environment impact, such as by running some of their fibre through Openreach’s existing cable ducts (Physical Infrastructure Access). Judging by the announcement, we can expect to see much more recycling going forward.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. John says:

    I’m in Glasgow area, in 10 year old new build. Virgin has just activated my street. Fibre was blown through BT ducts so no roadworks, with just 1 existing cabinet around 1.5 miles away service a few hundred houses. If this is cost effective I’m not sure why any operator would bother building their own ducts etc as it saves so much time and cost.

    1. GNewton says:

      “If this is cost effective I’m not sure why any operator would bother building their own ducts etc as it saves so much time and cost”

      Costs of PIA, collapsed or blocked ducts, not enough space in existing ducts, etc.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      PIA makes sense in some areas, but not others, so there’s usually a mix.

  2. FibreBubble says:

    Virgin Media Lightning contractors recycle their waste by dumping it into BT jointboxes in my area. Including bottles of human waste.

    1. Sustainability LOL says:

      And old dump co-ax cables coiled up in Openreach joint boxes because they are too lazy to take them back to VM yards. Time and time again Openreach engineers have to remove their waste.

    2. JP says:

      I’m sure Openreach would do the same if they where to ever replace a cable or even do any manual labour in areas.

  3. Craig Sanderson says:

    All operators should be mandated to finish their backfilling with matching materials to avoid the current mismatch of finishes resulting in pathements looking like Battenberg cakes. Around our area the pathements were originally laid with a dark materials and VM trenches backfilled and finished with a far lighter material. Surely it’s not beyond the whit of man to at least try and maintain a unified or original colour. First world problems I know …

  4. Podman says:

    In the Scottish city of Glasgow! Seriously. Would you write in the English capital of London?

    I’m pretty sure readers will have some degree of geographical knowledge.

    1. AQX says:

      Go ahead and look through previous articles (specifically those which have a large number of comments). You’ll change your mind on that statement.

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