Openreach taps Nokia to extend full-fibre network capacity

Deal covers essential equipment to extend Gigabit fibre access network across UK

UK national broadband provision firm Openreach is ramping up its fibre roll-out plans by extending its technology supply deal with Nokia.

Openreach will use Nokia GPON and XGS-PON fibre access technologies as part of its plans to bring ultra-fast, reliable broadband access to 20 million homes across the UK by the mid- to late 2020s, with 4.5 million premises by the end of March 2021, and also provide a platform for the UK’s economic post-Covid-19 recovery.

Specifically, it will deploy the 7360 ISAM FX, Nokia 7362 ISAM DF and Nokia ISAM optical network terminals (ONTs).

“We are accelerating our full-fibre build to deliver an ultra-fast, ultra-reliable and futureproof broadband network throughout the UK,” said Openreach CEO Clive Selley. “This new digital platform will help our economy to bounce back more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic – enabling people to continue working from home, and millions of businesses to operate seamlessly online for decades to come.

“Right now, we’re making the new network available to around 32,000 homes and businesses every week, and Nokia’s innovative solutions are helping us to build it better, broader and faster. Our partnership with Nokia will be critical in helping us to upgrade the nation and hit our target of reaching four and a half million premises by the end of March 2021.”

Full-fibre, gigabit broadband roll-out been a hot political issue in the UK for the past six months, and before the coronavirus brought expansion to a halt – mainly due to the lack of engineers being able to enter customers’ homes – network deployment was being carried out apace.

As well as levelling up broadband provision for UK citizens, most of whom are now working from home, a nationwide fibre-to-the-home network has the potential to provide a huge economic boost to the UK. Research released by Huawei in April 2020 calculated that delivering “Gigabit Britain” could provide over £50bn gross value added to the economy in five years, growing to £68.8bn in 2030.

In addition, Openreach-commissioned research from October 2019, taken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, calculated a potential productivity benefit of £59bn to the UK by 2025, enabling 400,000 more people to work from home.

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Openreach’s new installation will mean its network will be capable of delivering up to 10Gbps symmetrical broadband speeds in the future, in areas where demand for additional capacity is required. Nokia’s solution also supports an evolution from current traditional deployments to virtualised access-network control and management, software-defined access networking (SDAN).

Nokia said the new agreement is another key milestone in its partnership with Openreach to deliver multi-Gigabit, next-generation PON connectivity to customers and builds on an extensive end-to-end network framework that has been established over the past years. This includes technology, which currently allows Openreach to offer 100s of Mbps to homes in areas where fibre is not yet available.

“Ensuring everybody has access to broadband services is critical, especially during unprecedented times like these, when it has become a lifeline to millions working, handling healthcare and learning from home,” said Sandra Motley, president of fixed networks at Nokia.

“Our fibre solutions will help Openreach bring enhanced ultra-broadband services to millions of new customers across the UK today, while our 10G PON technology will help to futureproof their network against whatever may come next.”

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