The pace of roll-out of fibre-based gigabit connectivity across the UK has been given further impetus, with the major providers now being challenged not just by domestic independent altnets but also by non-UK firms in deployments.
Continuing its expansion across Western Europe, Slovenia-headquartered ICT provider Iskratel has opened a branch in the UK, to offer what it calls “innovative” fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services, complementing its presence in in Western European countries such as Germany, Spain, France and Belgium. The ICT company said its existing territories have considerable potential for fibre-based broadband expansion and are expected to experience a 3- to 4-digit growth of FTTH deployments, especially in rural areas.
Looking at the UK opportunity, Iskratel noted that heavy investment in FTTH connectivity is being accelerated by the likes of the UK government’s national high-speed broadband plan, accompanied by financial support from the government, local authorities, cooperatives and private sources. A recent study from ThinkBroadband showed that two-thirds of UK homes and businesses (66.75%) can now access gigabit broadband. This is a huge rise on 2019, when coverage was just 6%.
Iskratel will offer the UK market scalable XGS-PON/GPON optical line terminals (OLTs) and a range of optical network terminals (ONTs), and has extensive expertise and experience in deploying open-access FTTH networks in rural and underserved areas. This includes successfully delivering GPON/XGS-PON connectivity as part of the Slovenian-Croatian Rural Network Project, and deploying a 10-gigabit fibre-optic network to thousands of households in Belgium, in collaboration with the Ulysse Group.
Commenting on the deployment, Iskratel UK key account manager Simon Higgins said: “We are excited to bring our complete end-to-end fibre access solutions to the UK, and the recent expansion in the city of Liverpool will bring added flexibility and regional support for operators to efficiently roll out ultra-fast connectivity in underserved areas of the UK.
“As a leading European provider, Iskratel’s solutions are the perfect fit to meet the needs of Tier-2 operators with our expansive and customisable range of FTTH technology, which includes OLTs, ONTs and passive equipment. With our research and development and manufacturing centres across Europe, Iskratel will help unlock future growth for operators across the UK.”
Less than 20 miles from Iskratel’s Liverpool network, Air Broadband has expanded its gigabit-capable internet offering, which will be live for homes and businesses in Chester from 4 April. Delivered through newly installed full-fibre infrastructure in the area, Air Broadband aims to provide and support local businesses with internet speeds 10 times the UK average, namely the opportunity to enjoy internet speeds of up to 1 GMbps.
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Across the north of England, CityFibre is continuing its recent major roll-out of gigabit connectivity, awarding a £21m contract to Trust Utility Management to deliver its network roll-out in Lincoln.
Works commenced in Lincoln earlier in March, and the roll-out is progressing into new areas, with construction underway in Abbey Ward while work in areas such as Glebe Ward is set to start in the near future.
Once the city-wide roll-out reaches completion in 2024, almost every home and business locally will have access to full-fibre services from a choice of internet service providers.
At the other end of England, a wayleave agreement has been signed to enable 18,000 Southampton City Council housing residents with access to the latest full-fibre broadband technology from internet provider Toob, to alleviate what a Southampton City Council Housing tenant survey showed was a high degree of digital poverty in the city.
Toob believes that fast and reliable broadband is essential for communities to thrive in an increasingly digital world, and the aim of toob’s full-fibre network invest and work with Southampton City Council is to widen accessibility to improve digital inclusion and take a step further forward to bridge the digital divide.