5G industry news Telecommunications Tech | Backhaul

Innovation Briefing Issue 10 | Sponsored: Fibre connectivity

  • 7 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 1 Aug 2022
  • Last modified 27 Jul 2022
Fibre connectivity: the backbone of Britain’s economy. We caught up with CRO of Neos Networks, Sarah Mills, to learn more about why fibre infrastructure is the unsung hero of the connectivity world.

Canals powered the Industrial Revolution. Railways opened up Victorian Britain. Today it’s fibre backbones which are essential to the growth of British business. Sarah Mills, Chief Revenue Officer at Neos Networks knows only too well the importance of fibre connectivity in powering Britain. She spoke to us about why connectivity is more important now than ever before, and how Neos Networks plays its part in this, having become one of the fastest growing business connectivity providers in the UK.

“Investor confidence is growing in UK fibre” starts Mills, “Being able to offer customers critical national infrastructure and connectivity is therefore imperative. Neos Networks is an advocate of this, having provided high quality, resilient fibre infrastructure to UK businesses for over 20 years.” Spun out from the SSE Group, for years the company has handled critical national infrastructure for the wholesale community, public sector and enterprise businesses. Since investor Infracapital acquired a 50 per cent share of the company two years ago, the company have deepened and broadened its proposition further still.

Neos Networks now boasts a fibre network that extends over 34,000km, with over 550 national exchanges unbundled, 90 data centres on-net and 676 points of presence spanning the UK.  “The network we’ve developed is a Dark Fibre connected exchange network,” says Sarah. “Since we unbundled 550 exchanges, we have been offering a gold-plated, very high capacity backhaul capability to the market,” Mills goes on to explain. “And we’re delivering a fibre metro access network into key cities and towns, extending our backhaul reach into dense urban areas. We’re very much an infrastructure-based organisation.”

Neos Networks is quite unique in the market, as one of very few network providers with a pure business focus – money is regularly invested back into the network.

“We’re not a B2C focused organisation, we’re purely B2B,” says Mills. “That means our primary focus is getting network and connectivity to where our business customers want us to go. This is typically a secondary or tertiary consideration of the business-to-consumer providers, who will only offer connectivity where their network currently runs.”

Neos Networks’ customer base was historically the power industry which needs absolute reliability and very high performance. It also has a good base amongst similarly demanding financial institutions and has since built a reputation with local authorities. Today its client portfolio ranges from ISPs and Service Providers to Mobile Network Operators and the Public Sector. All can be served by Dark Fibre that was previously unavailable to reach the commercial customer. The product range also includes up to 10Gbps Ethernet services and up to 100Gbps Optical services. The company are also keen to provide their corporate customers with the very best solution for each of its locations with minimum build. This often means working with third-party providers and local AltNets to ensure the customer can gain access to high quality, robust connectivity every time.

“Uniquely we have also developed an aggregated access network solution, simplifying the supply chain, and reducing complexity in the service model” says Mills. “This, in turn helps us to deliver network to wherever our customers are based across the UK.

The AltNets are a particular area of interest for the company. They are a burgeoning part of the market, predicted to offer gigabit-capable connections to almost 30 million premises by the end of 2025 in line with the Governments ambitions to fibre up 85% of the nation by the same deadline. Here Neos Networks offers another vital link in the chain.

Businesses can talk to Neos Networks directly, or through our sales partners. Around 70 to 80 per cent of Neos Networks’ business is made up of wholesale partners. “We very much focus on delivering point to point connectivity for businesses via our wholesale channel” says Mills “If somebody needs an Ethernet circuit, or an endpoint, our wholesale partners will often buy this from us. They’ll then overlay their own kit on the top, providing a fully wrapped service to the end customer.”

Neos Networks also has a number of clients in the financial and professional services sectors with complex needs, as Mills explains. “They’re buying big pipes at low latency. We’ve managed to take over quite a few customers from the national incumbent competitors, transforming their network and providing them with higher capacity. They now have a high bandwidth network across multiple locations.

“The AltNets will aggregate on behalf of the MNOs,” predicts Mills. “It’s all about bringing their RAN sites into our backhaul network. It has the highest capacity backhaul for those 5G RAN sites. It can actually offer 100Gbps backhaul for 5G, or 10Gbps backhaul for 4G sites. That’s where we can help. We’ll build the network for them, through aggregating the supply chain, or alternative methods that will deliver the same end result.”

The market outside metro areas, from suburban areas outwards to semi-rural and rural areas, is not covered by Tier One providers. Neos Networks has noticed and offers a more flexible and attractive offering.

“For those MNOs, we offer the dark fibre economics the Mobile Network Operators need for long term investment in RAN site connectivity” states Sarah.

Neos Networks has an extensive Ethernet and Optical Wavelength network alongside its significant exchange footprint. It’s not building fibre in metro areas indiscriminately, but selectively. “We focus on areas where it’s right to do so, so we’re not overbuilding,” says Mills, “we focus on regions where the business customers need us to be and where the MNOs need us to be as well.”

Fixed wireless access isn’t a technology Neos Networks provides, but it is one it enables. The company are working with a major mobile customer to provide high speed broadband to consumers’ homes with the mobile operator sitting it’s 5G masts in places where it can access the Neos Networks backbone. Local customers can then be economically served with high speed, low latency connectivity in their homes using fixed wireless access hardware. This can deliver a fibre-like experience without the significant cost of shutting roads and digging up streets.

“With 5G we are seeing growth and interest in private networks,” continues Mills, “the additional radio capacity they provide has to be balanced with in-the-ground connectivity. The two go hand in hand to deliver the communications the nation needs”.

Neos Networks wanted to understand the current, on-the-ground reality for enterprises and organisations in the UK 5G ecosystem, and so interviewed over 200 IT leaders across large UK businesses and the public sector to discover more about the nation’s current attitudes to this next generation connectivity. The findings allowed Neos Networks to better understand the makeup of those organisations leading the way in 5G adoption; those demonstrating the greatest desire and suitability for this next generation connectivity and those who are looking to follow fast, having learned from those spearheading adoption.

The faith of the investor community is already bearing fruit. The rapid growth in Neos Networks telco business is set to benefit from future developments in 5G. 

“Speed and reliability go hand in hand for a robust business network,” says Mills. “The move to virtual solutions that spread and replicate computational resources over a number of sites massively reduces risks by eliminating a single point of failure. Our Dark Fibre services are available in over 90 commercial data centres, 15 of which are owned wholly by us as Tier 2 colocation facilities and all of which are located close to major towns and cities. These provide an ideal home for data replication, data archive, data backup, network access, network aggregation, switching and routing systems”.

To discuss your business connectivity requirements or learn more about our Dark Fibre network visit our website, using the Contact Us form to get in touch.