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Netomnia Reveals Plan for 50Gbps UK FTTP Broadband Network

Monday, Feb 26th, 2024 (10:36 am) - Score 6,440
Netomnia-Sign-and-Engineers-Hands

Network operator Netomnia, which is supported by retail ISP YouFibre and has already covered almost 1 million UK premises with their alternative 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network, has quietly revealed that their network is being upgraded to support ADTRAN’s 50Gbps (50G PON) kit.

Just to recap. Netomnia’s network currently, as of 9th November 2023 (last update), covers over 730,000 UK premises – across parts of over 70 towns and cities – and they’re imminently expected to reach 1 million premises across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (coverage plan – plus additions here, here and here). The group also has around 65,000 active customers via YouFibre.

NOTE: Netomnia is supported by funding of £648m from DigitalBridge and other investors.

However, despite being a relatively new alternative network (AltNet), Netomnia has already become quite well known for pushing the boundaries of UK broadband performance via their XGS-PON powered full fibre network. One of the best examples of this came last year when YouFibre became one of only a tiny number of providers to launch an 8Gbps (7Gbps average speed) package for consumers (previously only the likes of B4RN and one of Telcom’s outlets had done similar).

In that sense it is quite remarkable, if perhaps not surprising (given their track record), to see network technology firm ADTRAN quietly confirm (credits to YuGi for spotting) that Netomnia will be the “first customer” of their new SDX 6400 50GB PON OLT platform. This is bleeding edge technology, with the 50 Gigabit Passive Optical Network standard still being fairly recent (here) – the SDX 6400 doesn’t even appear on ADTRAN’s website yet.

Jeremy Chelot, Boss of YouFibre and Netomnia, said:

“If you look at technology trends, when everybody was doing GPON, I started doing XG PON, and really if you want to offer a true gigabit type of services, GPON is not enough. So it was important for me in the past to roll-out XGS-PON for that, but now that we’re rolling out that 8,000Mbps [8Gbps] service it’s about making sure that we’ve got true 10Gbps services that we can offer to every home. 50G-PON is necessary to provide that level of service.”

The move, which seems to skip the expected upgrade to 25G-PON that other networks have been toying with, is a major development for any operator and demonstrates a lot of faith in strategic supplier ADTRAN. Often there’s something to be said for waiting and allowing a newer technology to mature, but Netomnia’s ability to push the boundaries has become somewhat of a unique selling point, which they clearly intend to retain.

Clearly the initial plan is to harness 50G-PON to help underpin their 8Gbps packages, but it’s obvious to see that this would also enable Netomnia to go much faster in the future and, as they grow, that will give them an edge over most of their competitors. On the other hand, competition evolves as markets change, thus Netomnia’s move may end up directly influencing the plans of others.

The usual catch in all this is the difficulty of actually being able to harness all that speed when online. Most internet services still seem to struggle to harness more than 300-500Mbps, assuming they can do even that, while the 1Gbps+ domain remains more of a luxury (Why Buying Gigabit Broadband Doesn’t Always Deliver 1Gbps).

On the other hand, marketing departments and consumers with deep pockets like big performance numbers, so if you absolutely have to have the fastest connection available, and are covered by Netomnia’s network, then it’s 7-8Gbps speeds are available already.

Not forgetting that there was a time when even a 56Kbps dialup connection was considered “fast“. Internet connections and consumer demands are in a constant state of growth and evolution, so there will come a time when even 10Gbps+ speeds will seem positively pedestrian.

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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
45 Responses
  1. Avatar photo GG says:

    That’s nice. Now if they wouldn’t mind adding Berkhamsted back into their planned coverage map, that would be great.

  2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

    “Not forgetting that there was a time when even a 56Kbps dialup connection was considered “fast“. Internet connections and consumer demands are in a constant state of growth and evolution, so there will come when even 10Gbps+ speeds will seem positively pedestrian.”

    Not sure I agree with this one Mark. Dialup to broadband was truly a quantum leap which we don’t see today. Webpages load about as fast as they did on 80Mbps. Most people can WFH with even VDSL level speeds.

    I think even 1Gbps is still a bit of a plateau for most people. Games and other files can only get so large and at some point there’s very little to add by going faster. I think it’s telling that most multi-gig packages are still very much in the domain of niche users who think they have to have the fastest. That’s especially true for something like youfibre 8/8 where you need relatively specialist equipment to use it.

    So at that point XGSPON or 25GPON or 50GPON or whatever is really more about adding capacity to the network rather than headline speeds to individual customers, unless you’re an altnet who needs to generate free PR.

    It’s all like how we’ve left the era where a computer is obsolete within 6 months of purchase – now a PC that’s several years old is generally very usable for most tasks and it’s only certain groups of users who need the newest and best.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      For network side to prevent congestion etc.

      Meanwhile, incumbent BT still using GPON. LOL.

    2. Avatar photo K says:

      Ivor. There was a time when Bill Gates said you never need more than 640k ram (or thereabouts). There already is a time when 1Gbit isnt enough. Xbox games are usually now well over 120GB and will only get bigger. I remember someone once tried to tell me PCs wouldnt get much faster than 100Mhz. On a technology channel on TV they said you would never need more than 128MB ram. New technologies like 8k VR will demand maybe 10Gbit connections and Windows 360 for consumers will demand massive bandwidth in the future. The amount needed increases by about 40% a year and this will continue well into the future.

    3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      K: Suggest re-reading (or indeed just reading) my post. I have compared it to the very real plateau in PC hardware.

      I’d further argue that a lot of modern PC system requirements is down to bloat – everyone who uses MS Teams can agree with how bloated and inefficient it is given what it does.

      How many times have we heard that cloud gaming and VR and whatever is the killer app? I can’t imagine why it would even need 1Gbps, let alone 10Gbps – that would be horribly inefficient at *both* ends. That’s the other problem with faster and faster home connections – servers and CDNs don’t deliver that sort of speed, or are artificially limited so that it can serve more users, and content companies aren’t going to increase their delivery costs without a business case.

    4. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      So why defend BT all the time then with their legacy offerings?
      Just because YOU can’t see why, does not mean everyone else should be limited and curtail to BT’s minimum offerings.

    5. Avatar photo K says:

      Ivor.
      You obviously dont use networking very much. Ask any Xbox or PC gamer if they wanted faster than 1gbit and they will tell you yes. As for servers not needing more than 1gbit, one of my home servers has a 2.5gbe port on it for uploading. I wish i had a fast enough connection to use it but dont. When talking of networks i have well over 40 devices and would benefit from >1gbit. As is said on these forums time and time again dont buy it if you dont need it, but there are people that want ultrafast connections which is why ISPs sell them.

    6. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      It would seem Ivor always have to protect the BT view of things. Fortunately, the world is bigger than just BT now, so this legacy style thinking should get less due to competition. The cloud services and online storage, streaming, multiple people in a house doing the same, are just a fad apparently….new fangled ways that BT and Ivor say we don’t need and to pretend it’s not there are ramping up…

    7. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      K: again I suggest reading my comment as its obvious that you have not done so.

      You are a niche user by the fact that you post on here. I would disagree that more devices means a higher bandwidth demand – that depends on whether your home has 40 video editors constantly uploading to the cloud (and you should get a leased line) or whether – as is more likely – it includes IoT type fluff that uses hardly any bandwidth at all.

      Both of the major games consoles are GigE. Most PCs remain GigE. Even if you have 2.5G, you probably are using a GigE switch unless you’ve gone to specific effort to upgrade that in line with your needs.

      Personally I would not ask a “gamer” what they felt they needed because they generally do not have a clue. Especially the Xbox “gamer”, whose device doesn’t even have 2.5G!

    8. Avatar photo K says:

      Actually nearly all PCs have had 2.5gbe ports bought in the last few years. Nearly all my network equipment is 2.5gbe compatible. As for the Xbox you can get around the GBE limit by using wifi. I think the next gen consoles show this with WIFI6E more than 5gbits or so bypassing the 1gbit limit.

    9. Avatar photo David says:

      Yes, especially that the download speed depends on the upload speed of the target! Useless to have a 1GB download speed connection if you download from a server whose max upload speed is 100MB.

    10. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      That’s the old BT view Ivor. Get an (expensive) lease line for anything other web browsing bceause it makes us far more money.

      This model is changing with Altnets and even Virgin NexFibre (and eventually FTTP that replaces the existing HFC services) – for personal/family use, you can run servers and video editors no longer need an (expensive) leased line unless they demand the business SLA for support. They can happily use residential for this if they don’t want the business SLA or servers are just a household use and not heavy terabytes of data like typically a business server(s) would.

    11. Avatar photo Anon says:

      @Ivor “I’d further argue that a lot of modern PC system requirements is down to bloat”

      Totally agree, for that reason most windows users are now switching to linux (GNU / Linux)
      I am personally one of them, windows is now too bloated

    12. Avatar photo Rob says:

      I agree with Ivor, the majority of users don’t need these really fast speeds given they have been used to 80Mbps or less. Does that mean there aren’t people who want the fastest available or the next gen, no but they will be in a minority. I see this as a bell curve, speed along the x axis, number on users on the y. At the moment it’s going to be mostly under or around 100Mbps due to the constraint of old copper network and as fibre gets installed and adopted the peak will shift to the right and probably flatten out more. Surprised if there isn’t one somewhere already.
      I think ISPs will need to compete on more than just speed in the future, price yes but also quality of service, quality of the WiFi, connection backup. We’ve seen some of this with the focus on WiFi range, extenders and Vodafone including 4g backup in their higher tier service.

    13. Avatar photo No Name says:

      Can people stop saying speeds are fine with FTTC.

      They aren’t. A third of people closest to the cab are fine, for everyone else the speeds get lower and lower.

      FTTC @ 80Mb is a whole world of difference to FTTC @ 25Mb. 66% of people on FTTC will require FTTP to get 80Mb.

    14. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      “Ask any Xbox or PC gamer if they wanted faster than 1gbit and they will tell you yes.”

      Nah, I can never get more than 800mbps out of my 1Gbps line when downloading on the XBOX> 1Gbps is more than enough with MS’s network

    15. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      @anonymous

      Yes Openreach are on GPON now but I would doubt that’s a forever. If 50G is now a thing they might as well wait and the jump directly to 50G. They are known to be an Adtran customer so why rush into XGS-PON that will have to be replaced relatively quickly. They will do whatever the market requires and they obviously don’t see sufficient demand to rush to upgrade.

    16. Avatar photo Preach says:

      Great post, thank you! I’ve been trying to explain this to people but over on the forum you’re labeled a “multi-gigabit denier” for making these points. As much as Moore’s Law has slowed down, the demand side has slowed down more. For anything other than downloading giant stuff, you won’t notice any improvement past 100 mbps, and this doesn’t seem to be changing – bandwidth requirements have been stagnant for years. And even for 150GB games, a gigabit connection will chew through those in 20 minutes – how often do people download those that they feel bottlenecked by 1 Gbps speeds?

      The average download speed in the UK as measured by Ookla is 80 mbps for fixed connections, even though 80% have access to gigabit. That’s all you need to know right there. We live in overkill times. Mainstream CPUs with 32 cores, 128GB of RAM is now affordable, SSDs that do 8GB/s, etc. – very few people actually need close to these specs, which is why a 12-year old PC is still very usable.

  3. Avatar photo DBM says:

    I wish they would kindly sort out Bedford. They put the cables in the ground in August 2022. I pre-ordered with them, and every date I’ve been given has come and gone. Meanwhile, Netomnia says it’s “live” and it has said it’s “live” for 4 months now but you can’t order it.

    I don’t understand why. They stopped building. I’m now wondering if they’ve abandoned the build but they’re still listing it as live. Yet no postcode in the town works. “Not available in your area”

    1. Avatar photo Fibre Bloggs says:

      That seems to be normal DBM. Temple Ewell, CT16 3A – One road opposite has Netomnia and ours doesn’t. Literally a stone’s throw away.

      I think if the routing has complications, they wait for BT to sort some stuff out during their FTTP deployment and then follow after. It keeps their overheads down. Doesn’t help me or you as we don’t know if we will get it, just have to hope. Id take the 8gbps £99 package – equivalent of say 3-4 other houses typical service takings if it meant they could deploy quicker 🙂 I don’t have a need for that speed, but for 2 years contract still cheaper than if I paid BT for FTTP On Demand….

    2. Avatar photo No Name says:

      It’s probably abandoned.

      They put a few chambers in the road around my way about a year ago. The checker said coming soon. Nothing has happened since and now we’ve gone to no plans.

      Its a shame really, VM is the only choice here as OR tops out to 25Mb. I’m lucky though, some of our area is stuck with FTTC.

    3. Avatar photo DBM says:

      well that’s really sad. There isn’t any point in me asking them as they just give a date and never meet it. I would dearly love to be a customer, and i’d even give them a full 12 months in advance if they wanted but the patience has just gone after 18 months. Thankfully Openreach have now decided they will eventually give us FTTP after saying they wouldn’t, so I’ll be interested to see which arrives first. Whoever does will be who im going with. But I’d love to know why Netomnia says Bedford is live but youfibre says it’s unavailable.

  4. Avatar photo Gavin says:

    I’m not sure prioritising speed increases over faster expansion of the network is the right call.

    The only advantage faster speeds have for the end user is when downloading large files. But we’re still bottlenecked by the server speed and also the speed of the storage drive. The longest part for me when downloading a game is installation.

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      For backhaul this makes total sense. especially if you have multiple 8gbps customers in that area.

    2. Avatar photo Phil says:

      People handling the backhaul are not the same as the ones pulling cables

      Plus it’s not like the company can only handle one issue at a time. They are not the state

    3. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Would take 56Gbps connection to saturated my PCIE4 SSD. Given that there are PCIE5 SSDs with double the bandwidth, the storage device should be the last thing to pose as your bottleneck.

      Of course, if you’re still using spinning disks then that’s on you.

    4. Avatar photo Gavin says:

      RSF,

      Im using a 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD.

      How long does it take your biggest AAA title to install?

  5. Avatar photo Jonny says:

    Any indications on what a 50G-PON ONT is going to cost? Encouraging to see them on a journey to 10Gb, I wonder what the load on their CGNAT gateways looks like currently.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Just to quote the FULL picture and not any misinformation, CGNAT as standard and Static IPs are available if required for small amount extra (and still cheaper than BT)….

    2. Avatar photo BingBongGoesMyPacket says:

      Plus CGN customers get static IPv6 delegated prefixes and that takes quite a lot of load of our CGNAT boxes making sure all our customers get a v6 address that doesn’t change and cause your local devices to freak out and not use v6. 🙂

  6. Avatar photo Doireman says:

    I like Netomnia’s approach – I think they’ll be round for quite a while yet.

    1. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      I hope so. I really want their services.

      From what I’ve seen locally though, they’ve ignored the areas with FTTC only or VM and FTTC, but are overbuilding Full Fibre Ltd down the road in an area with OR FTTP and VM.

      I know they keep their costs low, but surely it’s better to not over build other alt nets.

    2. Avatar photo Danny says:

      They use PIA so build within already FTTP served areas predominantly

  7. Avatar photo Ben says:

    For the love of all things fibre, please start rolling out to Didcot.

    1. Avatar photo PaperThinJim says:

      We already have, and many more homes coming soon Ben! Keep an eye out for those great YouFibre deals.

    2. Avatar photo Sami says:

      According to think broadband only some parts of great western park will be covered. In response to an enquiry I sent they said August 2024 however not sure great western park only or all Didcot

    3. Avatar photo Ben says:

      Thank you both.

      I emailed and was told my part of Didcot (just off The Broadway) would be June 2024, and I check BIDB/one.network most days just to see if any plans have been submitted. I just hope this is true.

      I’m out of contract with EE and don’t want to sign up to another provider and be stuck for 18 months but they’ve put my G.Fast up to about £60 a month which I really don’t want to pay…hence.. HURRY UP! 🙂

  8. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    Err . Similarities between the front page of ISPReview and that of the Sunday Sport are becoming too real . .

    I therefore wouldn’t be surprised to see the article entitled

    “Net Co XX to provide fibre link with lunar landers, . . .no face-masks or space-suits required says CEO”

    Blow-hard city.

    1. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      Which part do you doubt?

  9. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    I have to disagree with Mark, 56kbps is way to fast for the average home user.

    Personally, smoke signals are are enough to watch Netflix

    50Gbps? Pff, I enjoy watching games take 10 years to download

  10. Avatar photo Yf says:

    I’m on their 2gb/2gb. House full of gadgets and gamers but never max’s out…

    1. Avatar photo Andy says:

      Well you should be! I can download over steam, ea app, Xbox app and blizzards at the full 2gig. Leaving no speed for voice chat etc

  11. Avatar photo Chris says:

    Damn, I’m getting excited for a 1gb connection, crazy speed, I know for watching catch-up TV etc it’s not needed at all but it was on a deal..I wonder what 50gb customers will need it for, surely only big businesses need this speed ?

  12. Avatar photo P Smith says:

    If it is sounds to good to be true then it probably is. Sick of their hype to be honest. They should focus on rollout and getting take-up. Announced in my area well over a year ago and then nothing.

  13. Avatar photo graham lindsay says:

    know if device manufacturers would upgraded and use equipment such as processors and data ports capability’s to make them able to use more than 500 -700 mbps current capability as most devices cant cope with anything more than that and that’s only if they are in the range of moderate to expensive devices. cheaper devices less so

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