Debut of new metro networks gives businesses fresh connectivity options
UK fibre connectivity provider Neos Networks has now completed the deployment of several metro access networks across key cities in the UK. Jon Kenward, head of sales for the wholesale and carrier segment at the company, explains how this new approach gives businesses more choice when it comes to connectivity.
In these modern times when high-capacity, next-generation connectivity is key, the ability to gain access to competitive and fast last-mile fibre can act as a real asset for businesses. The good news is that businesses and consumers alike are now getting more choice as new networks are rolled out across the country.
One player that has been opening up more direct fibre connectivity for businesses is network provider Neos Networks, which recently completed the deployment of three regional metro access networks in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester. It has also completed the first phase of its rollout in London. Combined, the networks will contribute a further 60km to the company’s national 34,000km fibre-infrastructure footprint once at full build.
In these cities, Neos no longer needs to rely on third-party connectivity, allowing it to provide customers with faster lead times and lower costs, as well as lower latency and better visibility with regard to their connections. “Those rollouts will change what we’re able to offer customers from a connectivity perspective,” says Jon Kenward, head of sales for the wholesale and carrier segment at Neos Networks.
There is also room for expansion of the product range that the company offers via these networks. The infrastructure began as Ethernet point connections to network-to-network interfaces (point-to-NNI) in data centres, but the company plans to roll out further connectivity solutions including its full Ethernet service, dedicated internet access, optical wavelength connectivity and dark fibre.
“It’s early days but there are a number of enhancements that we’re planning to make to our access network,” says Kenward. “There is absolutely an intention to roll out other services across these new routes.”
Gaining a competitive edge
The new infrastructure also meets the demand for data backhaul and supports the cell sites of mobile operators as they deploy 5G and further technology generations.
The flexibility of these metro access networks complements the benefits for businesses of the firm’s recently accelerated Project Edge expansion. Through this initiative, Neos doubled its reach of unbundled exchanges in the space of a year during 2021, to a total of 550, bringing high-capacity connectivity of up to 100Gbps within reach of 750,000 UK business postcodes.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve really come into our own, being able to take advantage of the investment in all these exchanges,” says Kenward. “They’re high-capacity and diversely connected with dark fibre to the network, allowing scalability and flexibility for our customers.”
Through the deployment of its access networks, Neos has been able to build on its heritage of offering resilient and reliable services to support critical national infrastructure in areas including energy and maritime coastguard services. Most recently, the company has been selected as a preferred bidder in UK railway provider Network Rail’s Project Reach, which aims to boost connectivity through a trackside fibre-optic network.
The rollout of its metro networks also allows Neos to provide more direct access to businesses, enabling the company to better serve customer needs.
In addition, Kenward explains that the company is able to respond more flexibly and with more agility to customer needs through its ability to offer high-capacity services. For example, the business can offer 100Gbps-plus services to those that need it.
Furthermore, the company’s agility is aided by being “supplier-agnostic”, says Kenward, allowing it more scope to tailor bespoke services to exactly what customers need. “We compete with other telcos, we supply to other telcos and we buy from them; we’ve always been very comfortable in that environment.”
In addition to the investment in its footprint, Neos has been looking into creating a more integrated digital experience through upgrades to its LIVEQUOTE portal, which allows customers to easily generate quotes and place orders. The company has also been collaborating with Ciena subsidiary Blue Planet to create a software-defined-network platform that automates processes on the portal, providing customers with a more joined-up experience.
“Tying this in with the network developments will create a service that’s even more compelling for customers,” says Kenward. “Having the last-mile piece means we’re delivering an end-to-end service, and we want to ensure that we can do this as quickly as possible. Digitalisation is really important for that.”