The existing hub connection would be replaced with one to the CWL1 data centre, some 1.1km away, by way of a point-to-point fibre-to-the-premises network. This data centre is the largest of its kind in Europe, a 50-acre campus operated by hyperscale provider Vantage Data Centres. An installation of this kind, with a direct connection from the village to the campus, is a unique occurrence within the UK.
Contrary to the usual practice of using a PON splitter to divide one connection from the data centre between multiple properties, each home within Michaelston-y-Fedw was provided with a direct leased line connection to the data centre. Crucially, this would provide the village residents with 10GB download speeds of unrivalled consistency, as using individual lines guaranteed no contention would take place.
Beacons Telecom, an Ultrafast Fibre Broadband Company, were contracted to complete the installation. Since June 2019, Ofcom’s statement on Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) allows internet service providers (ISPs) and contractors to make use of the existing BT Openreach ducts to provide Public Electronic Communications Services and/or Public Electronic Communications Network. As the Openreach ducts already span the length and breadth of the country, there is no need for contractors to begin installations from scratch, allowing fibre networks to be constructed far more quickly.
However, this brought about its own challenges as Trevor Mosedale, CEO of Beacons Telecom, explained: “At only 25mm bundle size restrictions, the Openreach ducts were extremely narrow, especially as a total of 576 fibres would be required to complete the installation. Because of this, we needed a solution that could ensure the connection would be established despite infrastructure limitations.”
To facilitate the installation, REHAU provided RAUSPEED duct bundles that could be easily installed into the Openreach ducts followed by blowing in the fibre-optic cables. Crucially, REHAU’s PIA duct bundle was and is the only triple sub duct solution available that was able to fit within a 25mm size restrictions. This meant that, despite width limitations, the 576 fibres would be able to be comfortably blown into the Openreach ducts, even allowing room for redundancy.
Moreover, the PIA duct bundle’s RAU-PP sheath provided increased tensile strength to guarantee the vital fibres within were not damaged during the blowing-in process, while three microducts within the bundle allowed fibre optic cables to be blown-in through one or more channels, leaving space for future installations if required.