CityFibre deploys 100th fibre exchange to power full-fibre roll-out

Century up for fibre exchange (FEX) deployments for UK’s largest independent full-fibre platform, enabling the delivery of live gigabit broadband services to the first 4.8 million premises of its eight million roll-out

Former altnet turned UK’s third largest gigabit broadband provider, CityFibre, is celebrating two landmarks. In announcing the deployment of its 100th Fibre Exchange (FEX), it has reached a milestone in its ambition to roll out full-fibre broadband to eight million customers, now with the capability to serve 4.8 million premises, with the build passing just about 1.5 million premises and around 1.3 million currently ready for service..

The latest CityFibre facility to come online is located in Glasgow and is part of a growing network of purpose-built, micro-edge datacentres used by the firm to deliver, manage and monitor live services and data across its network.

A typical CityFibre FEX unit is roughly the size of a shipping container and able to serve symmetrical gigabit-speed connections to up to 60,000 premises at full capacity. Located in high-security environments, these network hubs aggregate local data traffic for transport across CityFibre’s high-capacity national backbone. Alternatively, traffic in each city can be handed over directly to internet service provider (ISP) partners using the CityFibre Dark Fibre services available.

To support growing innovation and investment in edge computing, every FEX acts as a micro-edge datacentre. This means that as well as colocating their own network equipment, CityFibre’s ISP partners, councils and mobile operators can use an FEX to store and process data closer to their customers, enabling higher quality streaming and gaming, ultra-reliable access to the applications hosted in distributed hybrid cloud environments, and improved data processing to support real-time decision-making.

For future network expansion, CityFibre has ensured that most FEX sites have enough space and power to support an additional unit to be installed alongside the first.

Explaining how it was providing services, CityFibre emphasised that in its facilities, unlike legacy telephone exchanges on which the UK’s incumbent networks are reliant, all of its FEXs are aligned to Tier 2/3 datacentre specifications, ensuring the highest levels of network security and reliability to underpin a growing digital economy. Each site is served by two geographically diverse fibre routes for network resilience and is fully protected against power failure by A+B uninterruptable power supplies and standby generators.

With environmental impact a major consideration, the company assured that each FEX uses a combination of free-air cooling systems and intelligent climate controls to minimise electricity consumption, maximise equipment lifespan and reduce waste. Mains electricity is also secured from renewable sources wherever possible. CityFibre added that the interior of its FEX is designed to house the latest energy-efficient routers, switches and servers, and can adapt to future advances in core network technology.

“Fibre Exchanges are the beating heart of our local networks and one of many areas in which CityFibre is setting new standards in our industry through a network that is better by design,” said CityFibre group chief technology officer David Tomalin.

“Only when the optimum location for an FEX has been secured for long-term use can the core network designs in each area be locked down ready for build to begin. Once in situ, not only is each FEX a secure, efficient and reliable datacentre powering unbeatable broadband, it also empowers our partners to embrace edge computing technology and realise the benefits it offers for their customers.”

The FEX landmark comes hot on the heels of CityFibre announcing a strategic multi-year, multimillion-pound deal with digital networks integrator STL to obtain high-fibre-count Celesta Intelligently Bonded Ribbon (IBR) Cables with Stellar bend-insensitive fibre and ribbon-optimised joint enclosures.

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