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CityFibre Praises Improvement in Fault Repairs from UK Trial

Saturday, Jul 22nd, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 3,200
CityFibre ODF in Fibre Exchange

Network builder CityFibre has given themselves a pat on the back after trials of an enhanced platform “capable of true proactive fault repair“, which involved several broadband ISPs on their UK full fibre (FTTP) infrastructure, delivered an impressive improvement.

At present CityFibre aims to cover up to 8 million UK premises (funded by c.£2.4bn in equity and c.£4.9bn debt) with their 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network – across over 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). Various ISPs, such as Vodafone and TalkTalk, access this via wholesale and then sell packages on to consumers.

NOTE: The network currently passes 2.9+ million UK homes, although it’s only ‘Ready for Service’ for consumers at 2.5m. The operator aims to cover 8m by the end of 2025 (here).

The operator has always had the ability to proactively monitor their fibre network and see faults as they happen, but the new platform they’re integrating is said to enhance that. The platform is designed to ensure that as soon as a service outage ‘red flag incident’ happens on their network, ‘Auto Create’ and ‘Auto Resolve’ incident responses are activated. This allows them to begin investigating and resolving the issue almost immediately, while notifying their ISP partners and end-customers in parallel.

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The results of early trials, underway since February 2023, are said to be “nothing short of impressive“. More than half of the proactively managed faults identified during the trial have been fixed on the same day, meaning service loss is only a few hours, rather than the alleged “three-to-five-day industry average” (in reality this can vary a lot between ISPs and networks, often depending upon a chosen service level).

The ISP partners who started trialling this with us in one city immediately saw the benefits of this for their customers and agreed to extend to eight locations within a matter of months,” said Matt Walker, CF’s Director of Customer Delivery and Assurance. The operator is also working to deliver predictive maintenance, which may help to reduce the risk of faults occurring in the future.

Matt Walker said:

“It’s not just about end customer experience benefits though. Operationally, ISPs have a been able to redirect human time spent on triaging connectivity issues to other important areas. And because we look for the source of the issue, we can often identify when problems are related to ISPs own equipment too, for example their Wi-Fi router.

The combination of commonly defined datasets, accurate real time diagnostic information and high levels of process automation is delivering something that operators of legacy networks cannot currently match. The automation element enables us to react quickly and appropriately, but it also improves accuracy and reduces the potential for human error caused by lack of knowledge or experience.”

CityFibre now intend to scale up their Proof of Concept (PoC) trial and expand its availability, although they have yet to reveal how long it will take before this becomes available across their entire network.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
22 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jon says:

    Cityfibre praises itself, gives themselves a pat on the back.

    Bit like when they’re the headline sponsor of an awards event (I guess that means they paid for most of it) and then guess what? They win one of the top awards!

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      That’s normal practice in all sector-specific awards, which are commercially run affairs, often by one of the trade journals. It’s not going to change, you just have to accept that is how the system works. Years ago, a business I worked for was in the running to win the top award in our particular niche, we were all a bit naieve and thought we were certain to pick it up because we’d got the most remarkable evidence for our acheivements. Then the telephone call came, that yes we’d win, but we’d need to buy at least three tables (30 seats) at the glitzy award ceremony and dinner. At a shade over £2k per seat, this meant that we’d need to pony up about £70k. Our MD decided that we weren’t going to buy ourselves the award, and that was the end of that.

    2. Avatar photo Kim says:

      @Andrew G
      Wow, what a farce.

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      Speaking of awards, the DHOTYA goes to Andrew G.

    4. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      Well, when you think about it, how else might niche and technical awards get funded? (1) your competitors don’t want to pay for an award they don’t win, (2) the awarders are doing it commercially and they aren’t going to be out of pocket, and (3) there’s stuff all sponsorship or advertising revenue available because in the real world nobody actually cares if you’re “shared services provider of the year”, or “in-house legal team of the year”, or “loss making altnet of the year”, if nobody cares, then there’s no eyeballs, and no eyeballs means no ad revenues.

      Excepting John’s award, which I accept with pride.

  2. Avatar photo Paul D says:

    @Andrew G

    Yes, makes absolute sense, who will fund the awards?

    They’re a complete joke. Just a good excuse for a booze up and a dance with the girls (or boys) from the office.

  3. Avatar photo Jerry says:

    It’s a shame they damage existing fibre cables when they install and fix their own network.

    1. Avatar photo Badem says:

      Its goes both ways, everyone’s cables are damaged by other people when working near them, its part and parcel of how it goes.

  4. Avatar photo JayEmm says:

    They’re only in excess of 20 years behind the technological curve. Physical layer monitoring has been around since long before their company even existed…

    1. Avatar photo John says:

      Did you read the article? It’s a bit naive to assume they hadn’t deployed ANY monitoring until now.

      “The operator has always had the ability to proactively monitor their fibre network and see faults as they happen”.

      They already had monitoring on the physical layer. They have simply improved upon it.

  5. Avatar photo Martin says:

    I wish more ISPs would do this sort of proactive monitoring. There are options for most technologies, but instead of being proactive they wait till it actually fails, and often denying there is a fault until you actually get an engineer out

    1. Avatar photo The witcher says:

      Proactive repair potentially means taking customer out of service to repair ‘faults’ which may be not be service affecting and are never likely to be.

    2. Avatar photo Badem says:

      Problem for the ISP is that they have to pay for every case that has an engineer out, regardless if genuine or not.
      In the case of the Network Provider doing this they accept the cost into their business model?

      When I worked for another NP we saw alarms going off when services went down and had to manually investigate, ascertain if it was a genuine outage and then mobilise resource. Only to find user had removed equipment to paint a wall etc.

    1. Avatar photo Peter says:

      Ouch… That’s a lot of money lost.

      How much longer are the investors going to keep pumping money in?

    2. Avatar photo Lawrence says:

      From what I’ve heard, Cityfibre are now seriously looking for a buyer.

      I guess the owners/investors are looking to exit and cut their losses.

    3. Avatar photo Anon says:

      To be expected with any infrastructure builder at such an early stage of build.

      Altnets and Openreach will build much quicker than they can fill the network with customers. The question really becomes how long it takes to fill it with customers and if they can sustain the cash burn for several years.

      If it gets sold now, or in a few years time, it’s not going anywhere. The assets have real value and operational staff will be required to run it. it will just exist in another form.

    4. Avatar photo Lawrence says:

      @Anon

      That’s the problem, they can’t fill their network with customers because there’s so much over building.

      There’s simply not enough customers to go around to make it viable/profitable.

    5. Avatar photo Burning money... says:

      Wow, £210m losses in one year, that’s over £4 million a week!

      That’s over £800,000 per working day!

      Surely this can’t be sustained?

      My friend’s just handed her notice in at Cityfibre, jumping ship, now I know why.

    6. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      31 million revenue and 1.8 billion in debt? Try getting a getting a mortgage that’s 58 times your salary.

    7. Avatar photo Hugh says:

      As someone already said… Business models that looked good a few years ago, when inflation and interest rates were low, don’t look so clever now.

      Surely they can’t carry on like this.

  6. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    Philip Janssen (exiting BT boss) got a bollocking from Ofcom for predicting it ending in tears for the altnets. Unfortunately I fear he may be proved right.

Comments are closed

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