EE and Three turn to the dark side in fibre deal

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EE and Three have signed a deal to deploy the first "dark fibre" connections in the UK, providing backhaul to their shared MBNL infrastructure project.

Dark fibre comprises unconnected cables that are in the ground but do not carry traffic. CityFibre, the company handling the project, said by using dark fibre, operators get their own fibre infrastructure at fixed cost.

The company said the technology is a means of dealing with operators' increasing requirements for bandwidth, as well as rising backhaul traffic due to the soaring data usage.

The first stage of the project has begun in Kingston-upon-Hull, where CityFibre is installing connectivity to EE and Three's shared masts. The companies are working together to explore how dark fibre can be extended to other towns and cities across the UK.

According to CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch, EE and Three carry about 75 percent of the data used by UK mobile users.

Last week, O2, which shares a network with Vodafone through its Cornerstone project, announced that Zayo Group would be installing a 4,500km fibre network from Glasgow to the south west of England to help the network handle increasing traffic on its 4G network.

Vodafone uses fibre backhaul from Cable and Wireless Worldwide, which it bought in 2012.

Fotis Karonis, Chief Technology Officer at EE, said: “With our customers’ data usage rising all the time, driven on by the rapidly growing adoption of 4G, a more flexible and cost effective backhaul capacity solution is hugely important so that we can keep giving a world-leading mobile experience. This is a completely new model for the industry, set to provide a much-needed change to the economics of capacity management.”

Bryn Jones, Chief Technology Officer at Three, added: “This agreement with CityFibre is the latest step in our efforts to give customers a great network experience. The ability to add our own high capacity infrastructure will be hugely important for our network, particularly in busy metropolitan areas.”

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