Openreach’s Full Fibre Technology Reduces Build Costs by £10 Million Annually

Openreach, the UK’s largest wholesale broadband network, is implementing groundbreaking Full Fibre technology known as ‘SHE’ (Subtended Headend). This innovative approach has not only saved the company £10 million in build costs in the last fiscal year (22/23) but has also expanded Full Fibre broadband coverage to remote communities that were previously commercially inaccessible.

The ‘SHE’ deployment involves extending new fibre-optic cables from specially adapted existing green roadside cabinets. Typically, ultrafast broadband optical signal boosting equipment, housed in a main exchange building, is installed at these cabinets.

Across the UK, engineers have already deployed approximately 100 individual ‘SHEs,’ connecting approximately 160,000 homes and businesses that were previously considered commercially unviable. This approach has eliminated the need to lay over 1,262 km of new fibre cabling, commonly referred to as ‘spine.’

By leveraging the existing VDSL copper-based cabinet network in this manner, Openreach’s new Full Fibre cables can extend their reach up to three times their normal distance, covering over 200 km. A single ‘SHE’ location has the capacity to connect up to a thousand additional homes and businesses while reducing build time by up to six months and the associated costs of deploying new fibre cables.

This technology can also be installed in small remote exchange buildings served by a primary exchange, further extending the reach of Openreach’s Full Fibre network.

Andy Whale, Chief Engineer at Openreach, emphasized the company’s commitment to rural broadband upgrades, with substantial investments. Openreach aims to bring Full Fibre to 25 million homes and businesses, with a quarter of that coverage focused on the most challenging and remote areas of the country.

This innovation has already transformed numerous communities across the UK by providing game-changing ultra-fast and ultra-reliable broadband to previously inaccessible homes and businesses. For instance, in the remote Welsh Amman Valley, seven ‘SHEs’ have eliminated the need for 20 km of fibre cable ‘spine,’ resulting in project completion two years ahead of schedule and savings of nearly £1 million.

Openreach continues to push the boundaries of Full Fibre technology, reducing costs, expanding coverage, and ensuring that even the most remote communities can access high-speed, reliable broadband services.

Jonny Rae

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