CPW Celebrates Millionth Next Gen Customer

The Carphone Warehouse Networks (CPWN) has announced that over 1 million customers are now live on its own next generation network (NGN) infrastructure.

This major milestone has been achieved in just 27 months – in which the business has designed and built a UK-wide end-to-end access and core network which apart from the copper loop uses Internet Protocol (IP) transmission and switching throughout. This has been made possible using a Sonus Networks infrastructure solution which demonstrated the ability to replicate PSDN features, scalability and reliability.

Neil McArthur, managing director of The Carphone Warehouse Networks said:
“CPWN has delivered the first mass market end-to-end NGN in the UK, with reliability and efficiency improving every day. This gives our retail customers – CPW, AOL and Opal – the ability to compete very effectively not only on price but increasingly on service.”

The Carphone Warehouse made the decision to invest in its own NGN in 2005, principally to support its TalkTalk free broadband offer. This was only commercially possible with a converged voice and data network that combined with a programme of fully unbundling local exchanges.

Today, the network extends to over 70% of UK households with scope for further expansion in the future.

At the core of the network is a Sonus Networks ASX voice call server platform. At the edge of the network, subscriber management and broadband access are delivered by the Redback family of SmartEdge routers. The integration and voice mailing services were developed internally. In the access layer Huawei have provided the Multi Service Access Nodes (MSANs); routers and core switches have come from Juniper Networks (MX-series) and Cisco.

NGNs are not just enhancements to the well established TDM networks. They rely on completely new end-to-end technology (copper loop excepted). The choice of technology and integration between CPWN’s selected network partners proved critical in getting its NGN built and operational ahead of the competition, such as the 21CN.

Building an NGN was made possible by the regulatory settlement between BT, Ofcom and the rest of industry. However, most competitors have gone down the SMPF route to implement their LLU strategy, which limits them to providing broadband services only. CPWN decided on an MPF/fully unbundled strategy and only fits MSANs into BT exchanges which support both voice and data services on a single port.

In order to support growing usage within the access layer, CPWN has built multiple 400 Gigabit Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) rings around the UK. Geo, which owns the UK’s newest national fibre network, provided core fibre and co-location services and Infinera provided the DWDM equipment to allow rapid deployment and commissioning. Network partners were also critical for the provision of Ethernet backhaul in the Metro regions. Cable and Wireless, ntl:Telewest Business, Neos and Openreach all helped to create a high capacity Ethernet network for the UK.

While construction of the NGN was progressing The Carphone Warehouse purchased AOL UK, with its 1.5million broadband customers. A year of integration onto the NGN lies ahead and the business is on track to achieve a group target of 3.5million broadband customers by March 2010.

Neil McArthur said: “The commitment from our people and support from partners and suppliers has been outstanding. I am particularly proud of the quality of the replication of the Class 5 local exchange services, historically provided by the local exchange in the TDM network.”