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Altibox hikes fibre speeds to 1Gbps with network upgrades

Norway's largest fibre provider is giving its network an overhaul, with QoS front and centre.
Written by Stig Øyvann, Contributor

Norway's largest consumer fibre to the home (FTTH) provider is upgrading its network infrastructure.

The upgrade, carried out by Cisco, will more than double Altibox subscribers' connection speed, as well as introducing QoS capability with per-subscriber granularity.

Switched, not PON

"Customers can expect up to 1Gbps after the upgrade," Nils Arne Bakke, general manager at Altibox, told ZDNet. "And remember that this is fully symmetrical point-to-point switched capacity. We are not building networks based on PON," he added.

PON (passive optical networks) is a point-to-multipoint technology, where bandwidth on the fibre is shared between several subscribers. It is also asymmetrical, with a much higher bitrate downstream than upstream. A switched point-to-point network meanwhile often comes with a much higher initial cost but gives both subscriber and operator more flexibility.

For Altibox, that flexibility is main reason why it chose to use a switched point-to-point network.  

Fine-grained QoS

"We know that in the enterprise segment customers are already asking for specific quality of service (QoS) on their fibre connection. This is something we expect consumers will demand in the future as well.

"The new network will allow us to control the QoS all the way into the home of each and every customer," Bakke said.

The capability won't be available on day one after the upgrade is finished, however; rather it's functionality that Altibox can choose to rollout at a later date, when the feature is needed.

"We know that all operators are struggling to keep up with customer demands, and this will enable us to deliver our services with high precision in the future," he said.

"Finally, we've heard over-the-top providers like HBO say that they may be willing to pay ISPs for QoS on the bitstreams to their customers in order to ensure high quality on their own service, and that's also an interesting proposition," Bakke added.

Phase one

This week's announcement is the first phase in a total overhaul of Altibox's network, which will focus both on the core network as well as the distribution layer in the topology.

The intial stage of the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2014. Bakke also told ZDNet that to implement all the new functionality, equipment at customers' premises will also need to be upgraded.

"This is an entirely new network structure, and it will give us easier and more reliable operation and maintenance. The intelligence in the network will be moved from the edge to more central units, providing us with a safer, quicker and easier ways to implement new services in the future," Bakke said.

With more than 300,000 customers, Altibox is Norway's largest FTTH operator in the consumer market. It was also the first FTTH operator, offering services from 2002.

According to the company, Altibox now has a 70 percent share of the consumer FTTH market in Norway.

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