CityFibre’s XGS PON upgrade gathers pace with Vodafone trial

CityFibre van

Altnet CityFibre has successfully tried out fibre technology that paves the way for 10 Gbps broadband services.

The company on Wednesday revealed that it recently carried out a commercial trial of XGS PON on its network in York, in partnership with Vodafone. Unlike PON technologies that have gone before, which offer faster downlink than uplink speeds, XGS PON can deliver a maximum throughput of up to 10 Gbps on the uplink as well as the downlink.

The rise of streaming services like Twitch and social video apps like TikTok – combined with the continued popularity of YouTube and Instagram – means that consumers are creating and sharing more video than ever before. Furthermore, the increasing popularity of real-time services like video calling and online multiplayer gaming means that a decent uplink connection has never been more important.

During the trial, select residential customers were given access to symmetric 2 Gbps broadband, delivered by Vodafone’s Pro II Broadband service and its Ultra Hub and Super WiFi6E customer premises equipment (CPE). This is twice the speed that has been available up until now from CityFibre’s network.

“At 2 Gbps, we’re barely scratching the surface of our network’s capabilities,” said Michael Greening, product director at CityFibre, in a statement. “Thanks to our XGS PON upgrade programme, we’ll be able to offer symmetrical speeds of up to 10 Gbps in the future, further evidence that not all full fibre networks are created equal.”

“Recording our fastest ever home Wi-Fi speed showcases the true capability of the technology and our Pro II Broadband,” added Vodafone UK’s chief commercial officer, Max Taylor. “With the UK’s fastest router, we’re all set to handle the next exciting developments, so our customers always get the fastest broadband speeds possible, in all corners of their home, at a great price.”

York was CityFibre’s launch city, so it makes sense that it serves as something of a testbed for the telco’s newest tech. CityFibre began upgrading its FTTP network to XGS PON over the summer, and – following the successful trial with Vodafone – plans to begin rolling it out across the rest of its footprint from April.

With Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) also busy upgrading its fibre network with XGS PON, and with incumbent Openreach recently announcing plans to deploy fibre to an extra 184,000 premises, the UK’s fixed broadband market appears to be in rude health.

As well as being good news for end users, it’s also good news for suppliers, of course. Analyst firm Dell’Oro last summer revised up its 5-year outlook for the global broadband access and CPE market. It expects spending on PON equipment alone to total $13.6 billion over the forecast period, up considerably from its previous prediction of $9.8 billion. Dell’Oro said the growth is being driven by healthy competition, which is itself being fuelled by continued strong demand from end users as well as government incentives.


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