Gigaclear taps EXFO for rural fibre monitoring

Created September 13, 2022
News and Business

UK ISP Gigaclear has selected EXFO’s remote fibre testing and monitoring solution to support its rural expansion plans. EXFO says its technology will allow the ISP to ensure “first time right” deployment to reduce fault finding and truck rolls during operation, and rapid fault identification once in service, from a small number of central locations within its network. It will also help Gigaclear reduce network deployment and turn-up time in pursuit of its fully-funded build target of 500,000 premises by December 2023, contributing to the Government’s goal of connecting 85% of UK premises to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

Gigaclear aims to take fibre to rural towns and villages as the first fibre provider in those locations. Its network is already present in over 650 rural communities covering more than 22 counties across the South-West, the Midlands and the South-East of England, and more than 300,000 premises are already connected to its FTTP network. The service provider is now in the advanced stages of expanding its network to provide its services to thousands more premises in the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire over the next few years.

“It isn’t often that you see an opportunity to do something both faster and better, but this is certainly one of those cases. We are pleased to be adopting EXFO’s centralised test system as our primary method of network assurance in our next-generation network areas,” said James Harrison, chief engineer, at Gigaclear. “Combined with our proprietary and tightly integrated test and network data management systems, EXFO’s fibre monitoring technology and iOLM test units ensure our planned network is built accurately and to the quality standards we expect. We’re also able to proactively monitor our network, helping ensure a reliable, dependable service for customers.”

Harrison concluded, “As we grow, speed and simplicity of work in the field becomes more important, and we have been able to dramatically increase our speed of test by using EXFO’s solution, while eliminating manual data handling for our office and field teams, reducing the risk of errors. Gigaclear has been on the leading edge of optical assurance and test data automation for some time, and we’re always keen to stay ahead of the pack.”

EXFO’s remote fibre testing and monitoring solution is based on fixed OTDR test equipment placed at strategic central locations across the network. Through optical switching, the solution automates and speeds up the execution of tests throughout various phases of the network lifecycle, from deployment to operation. This allows the condition of fibre optic installations to be constantly checked and the locations of degradations or breaks pinpointed within minutes of occurring.

“The UK is experiencing rapid fibre rollout, driven by ambitious government goals and supported by substantial funding, but extending fibre networks in rural UK involves complex environments as well as extensive resources and manpower. Operators cannot afford to make mistakes as they are costly to rectify once in service,” said Wim te Niet, vice president, EMEA at EXFO. “First-time-right fibre deployment should be the principal goal of all fibre operators as this substantially reduces costly and time-consuming truck rolls to fix faulty networks. Our remote fibre testing and monitoring solution provides complete visibility across all stages of the network lifecycle, and Gigaclear’s technicians can immediately fix issues before end customers are affected, without having to diagnose in the field, saving time and money overall.”

In 2021, EXFO also supplied test and monitoring products to UK operators Openreach and Hyperoptic.

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.