Openreach taps Ciena to boost connectivity services for UK carriers

To hasten full-fibre network build out and help meet growing customer demand, BT-owned broadband provision division deploys new routing, switching and optical solutions

Ramping up the pace it has generated over recent months in extending gigabit broadband networks across the UK, and looking to increase efficiently network capacity and improve network performance for its future customers, leading digital network provider Openreach is deploying Ciena optical platform technology and managed services.

As of March 2021, Openreach’s fibre network has reached more than 170 city locations, including Birmingham, Belfast, London and Manchester, and is also building in more than 550 market towns and villages.

The BT-owned provider has said that, so far this year, it has built full-fibre for more than 1.9 million premises, and is on track to reach 20 million premises by the mid-to-late 2020s, at which point nearly two-thirds of the UK will be able to order full-fibre services over the network.

Openreach said it was driving roll-out by partnering with local and national government on a range of subsidised projects, and was boosted by the Community Fibre Partnership scheme designed to help local communities build a customised fibre solution to bring fibre broadband to homes and businesses.

The build includes more than three million premises in the UK’s hardest-to-reach areas, and Openreach said it was also encouraged to see strong customer demand for full-fibre services, with more retail communication providers coming on board. New orders were said to have reached about 17,000 a week on average during the first quarter of 2021.

In terms of technologies, Openreach is deploying Ciena’s routing and switching and WaveLogic Ai- based coherent optical platforms products to deliver OSEA Filter Connect Lite, a hub-and-spoke based solution that provides multiple 10GbE/100GbE links into a low-power, small footprint aggregation point at key network locations.

Ciena says that with OSEA Filter Connect Lite, Openreach customers can now scale the offering to expand capacity and incorporate future network features to adapt to changing user demands and connectivity needs driven by the increase in home and remote working. Additionally, Openreach’s OSEA 6500 MUX product, powered by Ciena’s WaveLogic Ai coherent optical technology, offers high-bandwidth wavelength connectivity that can scale from 100Gbps to a maximum capacity of 400Gbps per card over a single optical wavelength.

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Openreach is also using Ciena’s managed services, which underpin the end-to-end network deployment, service roll-out, and ongoing management and technical support. The network solutions will be maintained by Ciena, as part of its managed services offering, to help Openreach customers roll out new connectivity solutions for enterprise customers more quickly and efficiently.

Ciena noted that the combined teams of network experts from both companies will remotely monitor network conditions and correct issues as needed, ensuring a robust and highly available service offering.

Digital transformation was already underway, but years of progress have taken place in months as a result of the recent dramatic rise in remote work and learning,” said Jamie Jefferies, vice-president and general manager, international at Ciena.

“By adding adaptability and scalability to its offerings, Openreach is helping its customers meet the increased demand for improved digital connectivity with high-bandwidth 400G services to carrier and content provider customers across the UK.”

Peter Bell, Openreach’s director of network technology, added: “Our customers require agile networks and customisable solutions to meet demand and manage costs. Ciena’s solutions make it possible for us to deliver faster, more agile, resilient services for our customers in a shorter timeframe – and will help us meet increasing bandwidth needs aligned with our recently-announced plans to expand our FTTP footprint to 25 million premises by 2026.”

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