Nokia and Xantaro eye up UK broadband altnet full-fibre opportunity

Leading comms equipment provider teams with channel partner and service integrator to fuel the UK altnet boom which has seen independent firms connecting more than two million homes with full-fibre gigabit connectivity

As UK broadband network deployment continues apace, more than 2.5 million homes and businesses in the UK can now connect to a fibre broadband network delivered by an independent supplier. Aiming to tap into this opportunity, Nokia has expanded its relationship with one such alternative network (altnet) tech provider Xantaro, which is currently supplying more than 10 altnet service providers.

According to research published in June 2021 by the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), the UK’s independent sector is currently four times larger than it was a decade ago and continues to attract significant private investment. INCA said its survey found that interest and commitment were growing strongly in the independent network sector, with £5.6bn of investment and expenditure already spent or committed to be spent in early 2021.

It also estimated that intended capital expenditure by the sector from now until the end of 2025 would total more than £10.8bn, with operational expenditure (opex) of at least £1bn. The reach to 2.5 million premises represents over 110% year-on-year growth and compares with 52% from 2018-2019. The majority of installations are based on gigabit fibre-to-the-premises or home (FTTP/H) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) technology, with some legacy VDSL gradually being phased out.

The business relationship expansion between Nokia and Xantaro will encompass next-generation fibre access to connect to UK homes serviced by the altnet sector with broadband speeds up to 10Gbps. It will see Nokia provide its next-generation fibre access technology to the channel partner and integrator to serve its altnets in projects spanning the whole of the Great Britain. These providers are building their businesses on full-fibre deployments in areas with slow or no broadband availability, in both urban and rural environments.

Nokia said it was offering technology to support altnets to further increase broadband connectivity speed and fibre penetration in the UK with technology, enabling GPON (gigabit passive optical network), XGS-PON (10Gb symmetrical passive optical network) and 25G PON (25Gbps passive optical network) in a single unit. Nokia said its technology would give service providers the flexibility to select the most appropriate deployment model in each use case and provide long-term investment protection.

Xantaro also has access to Nokia’s IP and optical solutions, as well as devices for consumers and enterprises, delivering Wi-Fi 6 and mesh Wi-Fi coverage inside buildings.

Only days ago, Nokia announced that it was working with BT broadband provision division to conduct the UK’s first ever tests of 25G PON full-fibre technology, which it said could deliver ultra-reliable broadband services that are 10 times faster than today’s UK standard deployments and run on the same underlying infrastructure that Openreach is already building across the UK.

“We are very happy to be able to support alternative service providers with our fibre technology through our partner Xantaro,” said Paul Alexander, sales director UK and Ireland at Nokia. “Our technology, together with their knowledge of this market segment and their technical expertise, form an excellent one-stop solution for altnets to bring gigabit connectivity where there currently is none.”

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