Openreach claims ‘game-changer’ for wholesale optical Ethernet

BT broadband provision division ups the ante in enterprise broadband with optical networking product designed to address demand for 100G point-to-point managed services in the access network

With the UK’s broadband sector getting ever more competitive in both the consumer and enterprise sectors, and with competitors making strategic moves to grab its market share, Openreach is launching an optical spectrum access (OSA) product to provide businesses with a dedicated, secure and always-on fibre link, at a price point that the BT broadband provision division says will be a market “game-changer”.

Openreach regards OSA as a flexible, cost-effective way to move very large amounts of data between two sites, with the dedicated optical fibre link offering a secure, always-on connection. OSA relies on the technique of wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) signalling, which is seen as an efficient way to send more than one signal along an optical bearer – that is the fibre optic cables and equipment along the signal’s path.

Multiplexing gives each optical signal its own wavelength (or frequency), then combines these signals to send them to their destination at the same time. At the end of the path, the networking equipment separates out these wavelengths – or de-multiplexes them – before processing the data.

The different wavelengths can be configured to support different protocols and carry different data, and also to give businesses direct access to the fibres to configure themselves with an OSA filter connect. These can be used to offer premium services from cloud applications to next-generation datacentres and ultra-fast file transfers.

In operation, Openreach needs to manage at least one wavelength, more if needed. This, said Openreach, gives companies the best of both worlds as it can look after the fibre and manage the wavelengths, and users can develop their own services over the spare channels. It added that benefits include Openreach’s shortest dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) lead times; a low-risk entry-level 1U chassis option with a minimal footprint; customisable wavelength multiple, chassis and interface options; and low-latency dedicated fibre offering advantages in data security and service quality.

However, Openreach stressed that there were some restrictions with the technology, in that businesses can’t use OSA to build, extend or replicate core networks.

The tangible product based on the technology – OSA 100G Single – offers symmetrical point-to-point Ethernet links at 100Gbps, or alternatively 10 separate channels at 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GE), at a starting wholesale price of £863 per month when blending the connection and annual rental. The service also features product options that are said to be significantly slimmed down to help create a solution that is easier to understand, consume and manage.

“Demand for 100G point-to-point managed services in the access network is on the rise, supporting the growing demand for services like corporate cloud applications housed in both private and public datacentres, as the size and regularity of their data transfers continue to grow,” said Openreach’s head of optical products, Simon Williams.

“Based on our own research, we believe that this offering will move 100G into the access market at a price that enables communications providers to compete more keenly by leaving them significant commercial headroom to add their own service wrap and ISP [internet service provider] layer whilst still challenging current retail pricing.”

Read more about optical networks

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

Data Center
Data Management