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In a further demonstration of the growing influence and importance of the independent provider sector in the UK’s gigabit broadband arena, altnets Ogi and brsk have announced significant expansion of their respective networks, bringing high-capacity connectivity and route diversity.
Ogi claims to be Wales’s largest alternative network provider, and has now announced the near-completion of a first-phase, privately-backed project – under a concession agreement held between the Welsh government and the company – to bring dark fibre and micro-duct products into the south-east region of Wales, boosting capacity and resilience for the likes of carriers, hyperscalers, datacentres and internet service providers looking to expand across Wales, England and Ireland.
Phase one of the company’s business plan is to deliver full-fibre connectivity to 150,000 premises in the south of Wales by 2025. Using the public-owned motorway and trunk road network, Ogi is now installing a new diverse route into Wales over the Prince of Wales Bridge, into Europe’s largest datacentre campus – Vantage CWL1 – and onwards to key hubs such as Cardiff’s Empire exchange in the capital’s Stadium House.
Ogi will initially offer dark fibre and micro-duct products ready for service in early 2024. Future phases of the scheme could see infrastructure reaching the west coast of Wales, supporting carriers and hyperscalers to reach international subsea fibre connections.
“The big data age is here,” said Ogi’s chief executive officer, Ben Allwright. “With our data consumption set to double every two years, there’s a need for more datacentres, more capacity and, ultimately, a resilient product network that can carry it all.
“This unique contract between Ogi and the Welsh government is the very bedrock of Wales’s digital revolution; a high-capacity, diverse route, capable of moving data fast and reliably, side-by-side with bringing highly skilled jobs and greater prosperity to Wales. With established datacentres – like Newport’s Vantage – and increasing interest from data-hungry sectors like fintech looking to scale in Wales, now’s the time to bring this diversity and high-capacity resilience into south Wales.”
Noting that Wales is now considered one of the fastest-growing digital economies outside of London and continues to grow at pace, Ogi sees opportunity in supporting industries such as film, TV, music, gaming and fintech, which are growing in the region.
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Commenting on what the Ogi network could deliver, Carys Owens, managing director of broadcast production company Whisper Cymru, said: “This is great news for Wales and for thriving sectors like the broadcast sector. As we create new boundaries in high-quality content production here in Wales, the need for high-capacity, reliable connectivity – and diversity of networks – is fundamental. We’re delighted to be working with Channel 4 to remote produce its coverage of next summer’s Paris Paralympics from Cardiff, but securing this has been enabled by [Ogi’s] investment in digital infrastructure delivering game-changing services such as 25Gbps broadband connectivity, which was not only a first in Wales, but the wider UK.”
In the northwest of England, full-fibre broadband provider brsk is now celebrating additional regional milestones, having passed 75,000 homes that can connect to its network in Lancashire, and adding the town of Darwen to its list of coverage areas.
Commencing the build-out of its network in Lancashire in 2022, brsk said it has expanded their coverage at great speed, with its full-fibre infrastructure now servicing homes and businesses across a large pocket of West Lancashire, including Burnley, Hyndburn, Padiham and Blackburn to name a few.
The launch of full fibre in Darwen will enable brsk to connect more than 100,000 homes, and the company said the new infrastructure will have a huge impact on the town, where full-fibre access is currently less than 35%. In addition to Lancashire, brsk is also rolling out full fibre in south Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
“Strong digital connectivity has become fundamental to our daily lives, and we are proud to serve the community’s connectivity needs for decades to come,” said brsk regional head for Lancashire, Darryl Nieuwenhuizen. “We’re thrilled to be able to include Darwen in our coverage.”