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Commsworld claims dark fibre first in Scottish Borders

Broadband provider says lighting Openreach’s Dark Fibre X with its own optical equipment will enable it to provide flexible connectivity speeds of up to 10Gbps

With the roll-out of UK full fibre at full throttle, network provider Commsworld claims to have become the first operator to successfully utilise the newly available Dark Fibre X (DFX) product from Openreach.

Since the beginning of the year, Openreach has been ramping up development of a full-fibre network across the UK, and on 3 February it extended the reach of its ultrafast network to so-called hard-to-reach locations. DFX was made available to communications providers from August 2019, with a full launch on 20 December.

Commsworld believes that by lighting the dark fibre with its own optical equipment, it will be able to provide organisations and homes with flexible connectivity speeds of up to 10Gbps, which is about 185 times the average UK download speed. Also, by using dark fibre, Commsworld says it will maintain full control of its network, allowing communities to benefit from enhanced technical capabilities and an improvement in customer service.

Commsworld will initially use 200km of dark fibre (unlit optical fibre) to upgrade the backhaul into its enabled exchanges across the Scottish Borders, linking the region to its national optical core network with new ultrafast connectivity. This will enable alternative, accessible and affordable connectivity to organisations in towns such as Jedburgh, Kelso, Duns and Peebles.

Commsworld said it is confident that businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the upgraded network, with many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Borders consuming network from its local IT partner, GB Technologies. The company has already delivered hundreds of kilometres of full-fibre infrastructure to Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Scottish Borders.

“Bringing this ultra-high-speed connectivity to more rural areas creates really exciting prospects for domestic and business users,” said Charlie Boisseau, chief technical officer at Commsworld. “Businesses won’t be limited by location any more – we are looking forward to seeing more businesses with dramatically faster and more robust connections flourishing in rural areas.

“Anyone will be able to set up a high-tech business from anywhere. Having the first dark fibre services from Openreach is a real milestone for the industry. Rural connectivity is only ever as good as its backhaul, and for meaningful competition to thrive in all corners of the country, measures such as DFX are crucial.”

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Katie Milligan, MD customer, commercial and propositions at Openreach, added: “Commsworld has embraced dark fibre and secured an industry first to embed it into its Borders network. We have worked very closely with the industry to design the new product and it is now out there, being used to extend high-speed services and provide more choice to customers.

“Access to dark fibre helps to address one barrier to a wider full fibre roll-out. An early priority for the new government should be to remove other barriers, such as fibre tax rates and access to land and property, and mandate fibre for new-build homes. Only by working together as an industry, with Ofcom and government, can we crack the challenge ahead.”

Scottish broadband development is just as hot a topic as it is across the rest of the UK. In January 2020, the Scottish government admitted that it would miss out on the initial targets for its £600m scheme to provide access to broadband connections of at least 30Mbps by the end of 2021, and that it was likely to be the end of 2023 when its initial ambitious target would be met.

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