Openreach builds out FTTP from adapted green cabinets

Openreach has announced it is deploying SHE, or subtended headend, where new fibre-optic cables can be built out from specially-adapted existing green roadside cabinets.

The company’s engineers are installing ultrafast broadband optical signal boosting equipment at the cabinet, which is normally housed in a main exchange building.

Around 100 individual SHEs have now been deployed across the UK, connecting up around 160,000 homes and businesses that would otherwise have been beyond commercial reach. This has also avoided the need to build over 1,262km of new fibre cabling or ‘spine’.

By using the existing VDSL copper based cabinet network in this way, Openreach said its new full fibre cables can potentially be extended three times their normal reach. There is also the capacity to connect up to a thousand additional homes and businesses from a single SHE location.

The technology can also be installed the same way in small remote exchange buildings that are served by a main exchange.

Andy Whale, chief engineer, Openreach, said, “Openreach has a strong track record of investing more than any other company into rural broadband upgrades. We’re rolling out Full Fibre to reach 25m homes and businesses and a quarter of that – around 6m premises - will be in the hardest to reach third of the country.

“We’ve already built full fibre to around half of those harder to reach homes and businesses and this innovation is helping us to build faster and further into these more remote parts the country – especially in more rural areas, on a very large scale but more efficiently and at a much lower cost.”

Openreach said that, in the remote Welsh Amman valley, seven SHEs have removed the need for 20km of fibre cable spine. This means the project can be completed two years early, with savings of almost £1 million.