CityFibre picks Nokia and Calix for UK XGS-PON upgrade


UK fibre infrastructure specialist CityFibre isn’t messing around and has decided nothing less than symmetrical speeds of 10 Gbps will do for its network.

That means whizzy XGS-PON optical technology to replace the boring old G-PON architecture it currently uses, which can typically only manage up to 1 Gbps download and considerably less upload. This kind of upgrade has to be done eventually but network operators typically like to sweat their assets for as long as possible. By making this move now, CityFibre is sending out aggressive competitive signals to the market.

Given how shunned some fixed line vendors are in the UK these days, it’s not surprising to see Nokia chosen as one of the key vendor partners in for this upgrade. A less familiar face this side of the pond is fixed line platform provider Calix, which is the other named vendor for this project. Having said that, Calix has been CityFibre’s G-PON technology partner fo four years, so fair enough.

“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,” said John Franklin, CTIO at CityFibre. “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.

“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.”

The press release says ‘10Gbps XGS-PON access technology will be deployed as standard across CityFibre’s networks from April 2023’, but it’s not clear how much of its network will be upgraded on that date. We’re told there are already some XGS-PON customer connections live in York, so that’s a start. Hopefully this move will spur other UK fibre network providers to consider upgrading a bit sooner too.

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