Openreach taps VIAVI to ensure network quality for UK full-fibre build-out

Openreach opts for optical network monitoring system to address network quality, including validating new construction, performing pre-activation checks and monitoring ongoing services

Openreach has revealed that it is using the VIAVI optical network monitoring system (ONMSi) to accelerate its full-fibre broadband deployment, and enhance the quality of its build and experience for customers across the UK.

The UK government has committed to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, and it regards next-generation connectivity as having the potential to revolutionise communities and make them more attractive places to live, giving people the freedom to live and work more flexibly and helping to develop thriving digital economies.

In February 2021, the government released research showing that its £2.6bn programme to roll out superfast broadband – defined as providing a minimum of 30Mbps download – to “commercially unviable” parts of the UK had resulted in more than 96% of homes and businesses having access to such connectivity.

Also, an independent review of the Superfast Broadband Programme, conducted by Ipsos Mori, found that for every £1 invested by the government in that programme, an additional £2.70 to £3.80 of economic and social benefits had been created in the UK economy and claimed that with faster connections for 5.5 million homes and businesses, superfast broadband had generated £2.7bn in economic benefits since 2012.

Openreach has set a target to deliver 20 million homes passed with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) by the mid- to late 2020s, assuming the right investment conditions. The company is on track to reach 4.5 million premises by the end of March 2021.

As part of its effort in this national roll-out plan, Openreach announced in December 2020 a massive job creation programme designed to create 2,500 new roles in its own organisation and about 2,800 with partners to support full-fibre network build-out, and a new tranche of build work is scheduled to begin this month in 67 locations across the UK, with the target of building out a fibre infrastructure to 4.5 million premises.

As it progresses with the build-out, Openreach selected VIAVI’s ONMSi for the platform’s ability to address networks – from validating new construction, to performing pre-activation checks, to monitoring ongoing service – remotely, reducing the need for costly engineering visits.

ONMSi technology has seen use as a certification platform across the network lifecycle. Full-fibre build monitoring processes can be fully centralised, and automated with Openreach operational support systems and field app requirements. VIAVI said the technology can drive actionable insights across the field and contractor labour workforce to establish a traceable, guided process that results in high-quality, error-free network build, reducing the element of risk and with robust governance and compliance processes in place.

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“Having a fast, reliable broadband connection matters more than ever, so we’re proud that our network has played a crucial role in keeping the UK connected during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Peter Bell, director, network technology at Openreach. “We’re also convinced that our new ultra-reliable and future-proof full-fibre network will be a major catalyst in helping the UK to build back better.

“This year, our nationwide build programme has been gathering pace – passing 42,000 premises every week – and we are determined to match that speed of deployment with the highest quality of build standards. We want to maintain our position as the UK’s leading full-fibre network by working with world-class partners, and VIAVI’s innovations in remote fibre testing will help us monitor and accelerate our network build while making sure we continue to deliver great experience for customers.”

Manuel Mato, EMEA vice-president at VIAVI, added: “VIAVI has a longstanding relationship with Openreach, whose deployment and maintenance teams are utilising our test solutions for their existing broadband networks. Over the last two years, we are pleased to have extended our partnership with Openreach to include the ONMSi platform, which proved to deliver significant improvements in scale, speed and quality of FTTx networks.

“Moving forward, the ONMSi platform has been trusted to continue to drive further efficiencies and support Openreach’s full-fibre programme.”

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