Wessex Internet

Altnets continue full-fibre deployments in UK

UK’s independent broadband supply sector shows more momentum in the north and south of England, and also in Northern Ireland, tailoring cable offerings for different needs

The fast pace of gigabit broadband provision in the UK by the country’s independent provider community (altnets) shows no sign of letting up as businesses in rural northern England and Northern Ireland now have access to full-fibre broadband thanks to a multimillion-pound collaboration between Fibrus Networks and Acome Group, while Wessex Internet has gone live with ultrafast broadband in more than 20 villages and other rural areas in the first quarter of 2024.

Fibrus is investing more than £500m to bring full-fibre broadband to homes and businesses in towns and villages across Northern Ireland and northern England. It said the use of use of Acome Group’s cabling solutions had helped speed up its fibre installations to reach 354,000 premises passed across rural and regional areas of Cumbria and Northern Ireland. The connected properties can access broadband speeds of up to 2Gbps. The provider said it now has access to a future-proofed network, decreased total cost of ownership (TCO) and a reduced carbon footprint.

To speed up its fibre roll-out, Fibrus sought a cable with more fibre than the standard 48-fibre cables available on the market. Acome Group worked with Fibrus to co-develop a 60-fibre cable with a 12-fibre modularity, a structure that mirrors the architecture of the existing fibre infrastructure across the UK.

With a production capacity of ten million kilometres of optical fibres, the 60-fibre ULW cable was developed in Normandy, France. To further accelerate speed of deployment, Fibrus street cabinets were fitted with an optical distribution solution that was pre-cabled at Acome’s manufacturing plant in Brittany. The ITOM-V3 optical distribution solution is said to eliminate the need to splice at the cabinet, reducing the risk of project schedules changing and budget not being met.

“We are delighted to help Fibrus deliver ultrafast reliable connectivity to those residents and businesses in Cumbria and Northern Ireland,” said Acome Group UK director Andrea Garcia. “Our 60-fibre cabling has saved installation times, provided technical innovation and delivered increased flexibility. As the cable is also PIA-approved, Fibrus has been able to use existing poles and ducts in the areas, with no need to dig or put up new ones.”

Continuing the collaboration, Fibrus has also begun trialling Acome Group’s 60-fibre cable constructed with nanomodule technology that reduces the TCO and carbon footprint of deployments.

“Since we began working with Acome Group, our cable supply lead times have reduced and we have kept pace with the high speed of our network delivery and connecting those customers across the UK with dependable connectivity,” said Fibrus procurement director Neil Burrows. “Thanks to an efficient installation process, customers in remote towns and villages across Cumbria and Northern Ireland can enjoy faster speeds.”

Rural homes and businesses in Cumbria have been connected thanks to the Project Gigabit broadband scheme supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), while Project Stratum is a £197m contract to connect 85,000 hard-to-reach properties across Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, in the south of England, Wessex Internet has revealed its deployment after network delivery teams battled the elements to bring services to some incredibly challenging locations, after the wettest winter on record for 130 years.

They found mole plough routes across flooded plains, spliced cables al fresco under storm umbrellas, and were said to be especially careful to keep up their standards of tidiness and courtesy when making final installations through village streets and muddy gardens. Wessex Internet’s ultrafast broadband now reaches homes and businesses in Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire.

“I would like to give credit to all of our teams who’ve been working hard on the ground during these challenging recent months to ensure we keep on track with our plans to bring ultrafast broadband to rural and other hard-to-reach communities that are often overlooked by other suppliers,” said Wessex Internet CEO Hector Gibson Fleming.

“It is heartening to hear from customers that they don’t just appreciate having access to a service that they never thought would be possible, but also that they recognise and appreciate the considerate way that our teams approach their work. That thanks goes from our civil operatives, splicers, garden teams and home installers building the network, to our customer service and sales teams involved in setting customers up and helping them out if they have problems.”

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