Most customers may not yet need a gigabit network, but when they do Call Flow will be ready thanks to its investment in XGS-PON and fiber.
Formed 15 years ago by a former BT engineer, Call Flow began specializing in sub-loop unbundling (SLU) or fiber-to-the-cabinet networks in 2010, Andy Conibere, CEO and founder, told UBB2020. As regulations changed and other operators were allowed to run their own fiber on BT's ducts and poles, Call Flow expanded its fiber focus and geography and now serves suburban and rural regions in four southern English counties.
"With [that rule] out there and BT being pretty unambitious about rolling out anything other than FTTC, we had an opportunity to deploy all-fiber networks," Conibere said. "We then decided we needed to do much more fiber-to-the-premise."
Customers access the operator's 100Mbp/s FTTC network but Call Flow wanted to deliver speeds of up to 1Gbp/s, with a lower-priced 500Mbp/s option as well, he said. This investment demanded a long amortization period; the technology, therefore, must last at least five to seven years, added Conibere.
That immediately eliminated GPON, he said. And so Conibere and the head of Call Flow's IT department investigated XGS-PON and NG-PON2 from multiple vendors. Key criteria included technological capabilities; integration with the existing network; a future-facing development curve; vendor support throughout the process and price. Ultimately, Call Flow chose
ADTRAN's 10Gbp/s fiber-to-the-home XGS-PON solution that is compatible with Call Flow's current network.
"We're not the biggest provider in the world but ADTRAN recognized the potential of us and our aspirations... When it came to us trialing the equipment because we were nervous about rolling this out, they've been really positive in loaning us equipment, in helping us and they've been really transparent in the pricing," Conibere said. "I think it's the best relationship we've ever had with any vendor in terms of helping us get going. If you take all of that and put it in the mix -- the right price, the right support, the right service and transparency -- it led us to a really good team and partnership."
Although the operator readily admits only 10% to 20% of customers will choose the gigabit service in the next two or three years, the steadily increasing adoption of bandwidth hogging uses such as 4K media, augmented reality, virtual reality, cloudification of software apps and smart homes will drive 1Gbp/s subscriptions, he said.
"We don't kid ourselves into thinking there's going to be massive demand. We are building networks where, in the early days, we will only attract the early adopters and innovators," said Conibere. "Our business case can support that. It gives people time to outgrow super-fast and realize they need ultra- or hyper-fast broadband."
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.
(Home page image source: Call Flow)