CityFibre to upgrade all networks to 10Gbps XGS-PON technology

CityFibre to upgrade all networks to 10Gbps XGS-PON technology
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In what is intended to offer massive expansion potential for the carrier-neutral wholesale full-fibre infrastructure platform, 10 times the capability of its current architecture, CityFibre has announced it is to begin deploying XGS passive optical network (PON) access technology as standard from April 2023, enabling residential and business services at symmetrical speeds of up to 10Gbps.

CityFibre is building an open access network that will connect up to eight million premises in 285 cities, towns and villages, reaching a third of the UK. The roll-out of XGS-PON will allow CityFibre to support more customers on each optical line termination (OLT) port, enabling, said the provider, “substantial” network cost savings, reducing power use across its networks and improving the efficiency of its future network expansion.

To facilitate the network upgrade, CityFibre has chosen suppliers Calix and Nokia as its XGS-PON technology partners to ensure diversity of supply chain, a vital part of any critical national infrastructure deployment.

CityFibre’s existing G-PON network was designed to enable rapid future upgrade to XGS-PON. Calix has been CityFibre’s G-PON technology partner since 2018, playing a foundational role in the development of CityFibre’s network. Meanwhile, Nokia has provided critical support for CityFibre’s service aggregation platform since 2016, and its 10-year XGS-PON broadband equipment agreement includes access nodes for its nationwide network of purpose-built fibre exchanges, fibre modems for customer homes and IP aggregation switches. 

Shipments will begin in the fourth quarter of 2022. The Lightspan access nodes being supplied by Nokia as part of this solution will be used by CityFibre to offer its wholesale customers multi-gigabyte residential broadband and higher bandwidth services such as connecting enterprises and providing backhaul for mobile networks. 

A smooth upgrade path from G-PON to XGS-PON has been demonstrated through the completion of a whole-city pilot G-PON to XGS-PON technology upgrade in York, representing the largest of its kind in the UK so far. The York upgrade was undertaken in partnership with Calix, Lambda Networks and Splice Group.

The pilot project’s purpose was to evaluate and address all the technical, process and customer experience challenges of upgrading a live network. The first customers have now been connected to the new platform with near perfect optical testing results. The successful outcome enables CityFibre to work with its internet service provider (ISP) partners to upgrade end-customer optical network terminations (ONTs) in phases to minimise any network upgrade-related service experience impacts.

“CityFibre is committed to building a full-fibre network that is better by design, providing our partners and their customers with the fastest and most reliable services at the best value,” observed CityFibre chief technology and information officer John Franklin.

“By partnering with Calix and Nokia we now have two trusted and market-leading technology vendors underpinning a nationwide 10Gbps XGS-PON technology deployment programme,” he added. “Our parallel deployment of a high-capacity national backbone to carry virtually unlimited traffic alongside this XGS-PON deployment programme will deliver a highly efficient and adaptable network for the future. This, in turn, will enable our ISP partners to offer a differentiated range of services in full confidence that speed and service quality can be maintained as consumer and business bandwidth demand continues to rise.”

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