Openreach and CommScope Tap into Wales Manufacturing Innovation to Deliver Full-Fibre Broadband Network across the UK
June 2021 by Marc Jacob
CommScope announced that Openreach, the United Kingdom’s (UK) largest digital network business, is investing in the global network connectivity leader to provide new innovative technology as it ramps up its build of the Full Fibre network.
There are many ways of creating a Full Fibre broadband network that will meet the demands of the near future. However, finding the best solution long-term requires a deep understanding of a wide range of parameters, goals and the use of the right tools.
For example, delays in installations usually happen in the last mile. That’s partially because traditional methods of placing and splicing fibre cables take time, especially since splicing requires highly skilled labour, which can be hard to find. Previously, configuration changes could take weeks to complete as specialised crews were required to set up, prepare cables and build splices.
To address these types of challenges faced in the field, CommScope configured the NOVUX platform specifically for Openreach’s build programme. Engineers will have access to NOVUX hardened terminals, designed to enhance health and safety with less time spent on the pole. Site visits can be achieved in a few hours with NOVUX.
As part of the Openreach collaboration, approximately 30-50 manufacturing engineers will be hired by CommScope in Rhyl, Wales. They will assemble connectorised block terminals, the fibre connection point where individual fibres connect to a premise’s main fibre cable. These can be found on top of a telephone pole or within a chamber in the ground.
Openreach is already building Full Fibre faster, at lower cost and higher quality than anyone else in the UK, having made the technology available to more than 4.8 million homes and businesses so far.
This partnership highlights just one of a range of innovations and techniques which Openreach uses to deliver world class build costs, whilst a major investment in 11 new regional training centres is helping to equip and skill thousands of new engineers. As a result, Openreach believes it can build Full Fibre to up to four million rural and urban premises a year (or c.75,000 per week, which is c.15,000 every working day) under its commercial programme.
The announcement comes as Openreach recently updated its build plans to upgrade a further three million more homes and businesses in some of the UK’s hardest-to-serve communities, meaning fewer homes and businesses will require taxpayer subsidies to upgrade.
The company’s updated build plan will be fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable broadband’ to 85 per cent of UK by 2025 and it follows an extended investment commitment by its parent, BT Group. It means Openreach will now build Full Fibre technology to a total of 25 million premises, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country.