CityFibre has deployed its 100th Fibre Exchange (FEX), providing the capability to serve gigabit speed broadband to the first 4.8 million homes of its 8 million rollout. Located in Glasgow, this latest facility to come online is part of a rapidly growing network of purpose built, power-efficient, micro-edge data centres used by CityFibre to deliver, manage and monitor live services and data across its network.
A CityFibre FEX unit is roughly the size of a shipping container and able to serve symmetrical gigabit speed connections to up to 60,000 premises at full capacity. Located in high security environments, these network hubs aggregate local data traffic for transport across CityFibre’s high-capacity national backbone. Alternatively, traffic in each city can be handed over directly to Internet Service Provider (ISP) partners using the extensive CityFibre Dark Fibre services available. To support future network expansion, most FEX sites have enough space and power to support an additional unit to be installed alongside the first.
To support growing innovation and investment in edge computing, every FEX acts as a micro-edge data centre. This means, as well as co-locating their own network equipment, CityFibre’s ISP partners, councils and mobile operators can use a FEX to store and process data closer to their customers, enabling higher quality streaming and gaming, ultra-reliable access to the applications hosted in distributed hybrid cloud environments and improved data processing to support real-time decision making.
Unlike the legacy telephone exchanges on which the UK’s incumbent networks are reliant, all CityFibre FEXs are aligned to Data Centre Tier 2/3 specifications, ensuring highest levels of network security and reliability to underpin a growing digital economy. Each site is served by two geographically diverse fibre routes for network resilience and is fully protected in the event of power failure by A+B uninterruptible power supplies and standby generators. The interior of a FEX is designed to house the latest energy-efficient routers, switches and servers and can adapt to future advances in core network technology.
With environmental impact a major consideration, each FEX uses a combination of free-air cooling systems and intelligent climate controls to minimise electricity consumption, maximise equipment lifespan and reduce waste. Mains electricity is also secured from renewable sources wherever possible.
David Tomalin, Group Chief Technology Officer at CityFibre, says: “Fibre Exchanges are the beating heart of our local networks and one of many areas in which CityFibre is setting new standards in our industry through a network that is Better By Design. Only when the optimum location for a FEX has been secured for long term use can the core network designs in each area be locked down ready for build to begin. Once in situ, not only is each FEX a secure, efficient and reliable data centre powering unbeatable broadband, it also empowers our partners to embrace edge computing technology and realise the benefits it offers for their customers.”