Three UK, O2 hunt for fibre in London's sewers

News

Three UK and O2 have found a rich source of fibre in London's sewer system, thanks to a deal with SSE Enterprise Telecoms.

The mobile operators have struck a backhaul deal with the connectivity provider that gives them access to its high-capacity fibre ring in central London, a proportion of which is deployed in the capital's sewers. The new capacity will improve Three's and O2's 4G network performance, and lays some of the groundwork for future 5G deployments.

Approximately 100 points of connectivity exit the sewer network via two BT exchanges. The partnership enables Three and O2 to operate their own central London area network, while also giving them access to spare fibre ducts to potentially further increase capacity in future.

"New and innovative models are essential to improving the customer experience of mobile networks by increasing the availability of dark fibre for mobile backhaul and driving competition in the market. Our partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms and O2 is one of the first examples of using existing infrastructure to improve connectivity in an urban area," said Dave Dyson, CEO, Three UK.

Brendan O’Reilly, Chief Technology Officer of O2, said: "This kind of agreement is essential to allow for continued investment and improvement of services for our customers. This partnership is a great example of SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Three UK and O2 coming together in a collaborative and innovative way to address the growing challenge and pressure of obtaining access to fibre for mobile backhaul in the UK."

SSE Enterprise Telecoms has been laying cables in London's sewer system since acquiring a licence in 2017. It significantly reduces the cost compared to digging new routes.

"With this high capacity core in the London sewers, Three UK and O2 are tapping into our unique, diverse connectivity and putting their networks in a strong position to trial 5G offerings, while enhancing existing services for their customers," said Colin Sempill, Managing Director of SSE Enterprise Telecoms.