In December 2021, after unbundling 550 communications exchanges belonging to BT, fibre connectivity supplier Neos Networks revealed plans to invest in a full-fibre, last-mile, metro network expansion programme. It has now completed the delivery of its three regional Metro Access Networks in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, along with phase one of its deployment in London.
The delivery of high-capacity, high-bandwidth, low-latency fibre connectivity is designed to provide a critical foundation of digital infrastructure to support the growth of businesses in these areas. Neos said new developments in key business districts would benefit from business-grade fibre connectivity to support the adoption of new applications and technologies underpinned by business resiliency, growth and efficiency improvements.
In 2021, the company began Project Edge, a network expansion programme that aims to bring high-capacity 100Gbps connections within reach of more UK businesses and help facilitate the roll-out of advanced 5G services on the Three network. The programme aimed to see the company reach a fibre footprint of more than 34,000km by the end of 2021, underpinning the UK government’s target for full-fibre, gigabit connectivity to 85% of UK premises by 2025.
The entire Metro Network Expansion project makes up over 60km of the company’s national fibre footprint. The breakdown of fibre deployed in each city is 3.6km in Liverpool, 7.1km in Birmingham, 13.7km in Manchester and 37km in London once the whole build is complete.
Neos has already begun identifying early adopter customers in each region, and is working with those partners to understand the depths and requirements of businesses in their respective cities. As the business case grows in each region, Neos will explore additional opportunities to extend the reach of these access networks. An opportunity to grow the network has already been captured in Liverpool with the network extension having gone live in December.
Furthermore, the company said its strategic move into last-mile access meant it would no longer have to rely on third-party connectivity across these business hubs. As a result, it said it could now offer its customers improved timescales and lower costs to deliver the higher quality of service associated with the company’s nationwide UK backbone business network.
Neos also said the move would provide its customers with the same level of commitment they have come to expect, but with an easier path to upgrade, quicker response for break fixes, and the network characteristics that meet their needs and growth ambitions.
As Neos continues to assess the connectivity requirements of businesses in each city, it is planning to explore using its Optical Wavelength technology to deliver the appropriate commercial packages for customers, particularly those in multiple business units. This, it said, would help to ensure a guaranteed level of service to businesses over either an optical or Ethernet connection.
The network expansion into each of the cities is designed to give choice to customers regardless of their sector. For network players, the new infrastructure is intended to support the data backhaul requirements of their services and is seen as being particularly influential in supporting mobile operators with their local cell sites and as they roll out 5G and beyond.
With services now live in all four regions, Neos Networks said it was bringing fibre connectivity direct to thousands of local businesses across the cities. At the time of the announcement, Neos Networks claimed to be ahead of schedule on its fourth access network build in London. Four of the eight planned routes are now live across the capital, with the remaining phase of deployment on track for delivery over the next year.
Neos has invested further into adapting its products to work over its own Access Tails, as part of a plan to address opportunities to meet the connectivity needs of customers in multi-business units by driving a better overall quality of experience.
“I’m thrilled that we’re nearing completion of our Metro Access Network builds in these four key UK cities. This project will underpin the growth of UK PLC by creating new opportunities for enterprises and driving investment within several new business districts,” said Sarah Mills, chief revenue officer at Neos Networks.
“The ambition for our network expansion project has always been to help UK businesses realise the growth potential associated with resilient, secure, high-capacity business connectivity services,” she added. “We look forward to engaging businesses on how we can support their network resiliency and priorities with the right connectivity solutions.”