The middle Mile Challenge Facing UK Isps

By: Article Submission

The issue of the 'middle mile' is emerging as critical for the UK's ISPs, says Geo's National Sales Director Annette Murphy.

The middle mile - the network connection that runs between telephone exchanges to the core UK internet backbone - is emerging as a bottleneck, and a key inhibitor affecting the level of service that ISPs are able to deliver to customers, she says.

"There are some 3,000 telephone exchanges in the UK, and an ISP needs access into a subset of those, getting them as close as possible to the end user," she says. "This means they are faced with an economic decision - do they pay for the network capacity they need from BT, or do they look for some sort of alternative?"

She says the impact of the issue depends on where the service provider sits in the food chain, and also on factors like geographic location. Does the service provider enjoy a choice of suppliers, or do they rely on BT?

"For our customers, Geo plays a key role in helping them bridge the middle mile issue and solve this dilemma," she says.

Murphy says many ISPs are now seeing the ownership of a core dedicated fibre network as the answer to the middle mile bottleneck: "Only connectivity offering the capacity, security and control of dedicated fibre like Geo's is able to meet their needs," she believes.

The sheer volume of traffic faced by ISPs means that it is in any case now economically advantageous for them to design and own their own dedicated fibre networks. Not only do the economies of scale equate to a much lower total cost of ownership, this path also enables them to add additional wavelengths as and when needed.

Owning and controlling their own network is simply the best way for an ISP to manage the massive shifting of data within their core networks in order to offer best levels of security and uptime to satisfy both business and consumer alike.

Geo provides service provider customers like Carphone Warehouse Networks and Tiscali with middle mile optical fibre transport as an alternative to copper networks, routing huge quantities of data traffic from consumers into the core UK Internet backbone.

Mary Turner, CEO of ISP Tiscali UK, has said that with a new generation of Internet users looking to download videos and stream TV content, the major issue is network bandwidth between the core network and the exchange where backhaul demands are high and often expensive to meet other than with the sort of affordable connection that Geo delivers.

Carphone Warehouse Networks (CWN's) MD Neil McArthur says that developing next generation network capabilities that will strengthen CWN's offering into the future was absolutely key and that Geo was their chosen network partner because it could offer the most robust, modern fibre infrastructure in the UK.

Geo will provide Carphone Warehouse Networks with a dedicated fibre pair across its entire national network for the next 15 years, enabling future-proof expansion while avoiding spiralling costs every time additional capacity is required. The ability to grow capacity while retaining existing infrastructure will become increasingly important to the Carphone Warehouse Networks business model.

By 2012, residential broadband customers will be expecting a massive 23Mbit/s downstream and 14 Mbit/s upstream capacity, which means Carphone Warehouse Networks will need the backhaul capacity to meet the demands of its AOL and Talk-Talk residential broadband and Opal B2B customers.

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