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New fibre start-up plans 10G to homes in UK suburbs

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A new UK-based carrier says it plans to start building a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to small towns and suburbs delivering up to 10Gbps.

Zzoomm has been founded by Matthew Hare, who founded Gigaclear in 2010 and sold it in mid-2018 to Infracapital for £270 million – a few months before Infracapital added to its telecom portfolio with a 50% stake in SSE Enterprise Telecoms, bought for £380 million.

Now Hare’s new company has announced a deal with US equipment maker Adtran to supply passive optical network (PON) equipment for the planned network. Adtran has won deals to equip a number of FTTH start-ups, including London-based Community Fibre.

“This is all about future proofing; 10 years ago, one gigabit was considered sufficient to meet future speed needs but this is no longer the case,” said Hare. “Zzoomm will deliver 10 gigabit speeds to homes and businesses – both downloads and uploads – in towns and suburbs, some 400 to 500 times faster than the average speeds across copper infrastructure.”

Adtran CTO Ronan Kelly said: “We are enabling operators across Europe, like Zzoomm, to make significant progress in connecting homes and businesses to advanced services that enhance subscriber experience and quality of life.”

He added: “This partnership is another proof-point that the market is choosing 10G PON technology over 1G PON variants deployed over the last two decades.”

According to market research company IHS Markit, the 10Gbps PON market will be worth $6 billion between now and 2022.

Oxford-based Zzoomm – not connected to a French operation with the same name, which is a holiday-booking site – has given little details of its actual plans, even though its announcements imply that construction has already started. “We are building out a robust infrastructure that’s fit for the coming decades,” says Zzoomm.

According to a Zzoomm public relations consultant, Adrian Duffield, Hare “hasn’t disclosed publicly where he’s going to go”. Hare has provided his own seed capital, presumably helped by the Infracapital deal, but is planning “a fundraiser”, probably “mid-summer”, though he has “not disclosed” exactly when. “He’s got milestones but they have not yet been disclosed.”

However Zzoomm will be “retail-led with some wholesale”. Will he aim to connect cell towers – especially as some are saying 5G base stations will need 10Gbps fibre connections? “All these things are to be discussed,” said Duffield.

Zzoomm will provide business connections as well as FTTH, he added. “If you put 10Gbps into an area you have speeds for a business.”

Meanwhile Zzoomm said Adtran will “provide engineering support for the design and testing of the new infrastructure” as it supplies its “next generation XGS-PON solution and equipment”.

Incidentally, according to a technology-heavy blog by Nokia’s fixed fibre marketing specialist, Ana Pesovic, XG-PON and XGS-PON are different.

 

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