A further £250 million (US$327 million) of potential investment in new access network fiber infrastructure has been unveiled this week following the acquisition (for an undisclosed sum) of broadband startup Swish Fibre by Fern Trading Ltd.
The acquisition and investment was announced on December 17 and followed swiftly by details, released today, of further details about the plan to build a 10Gbit/s fiber access network to 250,000 properties, starting with 50,000 homes in 11 locations west of London (see this press release for the list of towns).
Initial network design processes are already underway in some of those locations and the company expects to start laying fiber early next year, building new ducts as well as using Openreach PIA (Physical Infrastructure Access) assets. (As a reminder, Openreach is the semi-autonomous access infrastructure division of UK incumbent operator BT Group.)
The Swish team is already prepping for its network rollout starting in 2020. (Pic: Swish Fibre Ltd.)
The move is significant not only because it adds to the growing number of companies finally bringing alternative fiber access infrastructure to the UK (a trend arguably kickstarted by CityFibre), but because it also signals the willing of investment companies to target their funds at British fiber builds. Fern Trading is a portfolio company managed by Octopus Investments (with funds coming from the Octopus Inheritance Tax Service), and this is not the first time Octopus has advised the Fern Trading team to invest in a UK FTTH startup.
Fern is better known for its investments in renewable energy and property, but is now also turning its attention to digital network projects: Earlier this year it acquired Jurassic Fibre, another British FTTH new entrant focused on delivering Gigabit broadband to the often neglected south-west region of the UK. "Jurassic Fibre has raised substantial funds from Fern Trading Ltd, advised by Octopus Investments, to build and operate a fibre-to-the-premises network across the South West of England," the wonderfully named operator notes on its website. "We are planning to invest over £250 million into building a fibre network in Devon, Dorset and Somerset, passing over 300,000 homes, making gigabit speeds a reality."
Today’s access network architecture is under mounting pressure due to a continued surge in the number of connected devices, a proliferation of bandwidth-intensive customer applications and dramatic shifts in usage patterns related to the pandemic, such as work-from-home and e-learning.
Learn why now is the right time for cable operators to build greenfield networks or expand their existing networks with 10G PON, arming customers with high-speed symmetrical broadband. Gain a clear understanding of the drivers impacting the access network and the various approaches being considered to deliver higher speed services. Plus, find out the best practices that operators are employing as they leverage the latest in passive optical technology to future-proof their networks.
Topics to be covered include:
Node + 0 (Fiber Deep)
DOCSIS 3.1, DOCSIS 4.0 (FDX/ESD)
FTTP and 10G PON
Provisioning 10G PON within a DOCSIS B/OSS environment