Lifting the lid on Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA)

As the UK fibre rollout gathers pace, NextGenAccess can access hidden network assets to provide carriers, data centre operators, service providers, networks and public sector organisations with compelling and highly flexible alternatives to lit fibre services. Here, Sales Director Steve Mackervoy explains how a partnership with NextGenAccess can help channel players provide valuable Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) to customers.

Please outline the development plans NextGenAccess has been working on in the last year/18 months?

Our key focus has been deploying large scale fibre networks in Manchester, London and Essex. These builds take us to 450km of network, and we have been building with the future in mind. We always construct with strategically placed joints and chambers to allow us to easily extend our network to deliver our access products to partners wishing to provide services to their business customers.

Would you say NextGenAccess intends to be a market disruptor?

Yes, but only where the market needs disrupting. The access market is dominated by a single player and the options for partners are limited. Our aim is to provide partners with an alternative, giving them better commercials, higher bandwidths, and the opportunity to create differentiating solutions for their customers.

How important to your plans is it to have experienced connectivity specialists in the NextGenAccess management team?
This for us has been crucial. Totting up the industry experience of the management team alone, we are talking in excess of 100 years. For example, having former Gamma CEO Bob Falconer as a non-executive director gives us the know-how, and access to contacts to really make things happen.

What hurdles have you overcome to be in a position to take your offerings to market?

It is always difficult doing something genuinely new. Sometimes it is easier to copy the offerings of one’s competitors, but in this case the opportunity presented by being radical is so big that it’s in everyone’s best interests, including our customers, to overcome any obstacles.

What are those key offerings and what are your key channel targets?
Our key offerings are point to point access Dark Fibre services in city centres, where our channel targets have ‘unbundled’, and managed end to end layer 2 services where they haven’t.

Please outline PIA and what benefits it brings to channel players?
PIA (Physical Infrastructure Access) is the methodology whereby Openreach allows other operators access to its duct network to deploy their own fibres. This means that operators such as NGA can deploy quicker and at less cost with less disruption for local businesses and residents. This means that channel partners get more choice and pay less for the services their customers need.

Would you say NGA is leading the way in PIA and, if so, how?

NGA has been working with PIA since it was launched, and was one of the first operators to achieve, and maintain, Path To Collaboration status nationally. This essentially means that we are a trusted partner of Openreach and they allow us to fix blockages and problems in their network without waiting for authorisation, so yes, I would say that NGA is leading the way with PIA.

What are the main customer targets for PIA?

Consumers of Openreach access services who want something different.

What innovations and support does NGA provide to any channel player considering adding PIA to their portfolio?

We offer enhanced, flexible commercials and the ability to take ownership of some infrastructure if our partners require it.

What are your aims and objectives for the next year?

Our aim is to take a share of the leased line market in our chosen areas. We want to shake up the market by offering a differentiated product set to CPs, ISPs and MNOs and to develop a small but focussed channel partner base which can take our products and add to them to take to a wider audience, bringing cheaper connectivity to businesses in key areas.

Please describe in a short sentence why a channel player should get in touch with you.

NGA is a wholesale only business and has a wealth of experience in an area of telecoms that some have discovered can be a minefield. Our team comprises individuals who previously operated successful channel partner businesses. We know what good looks like.

A background to NGA

Managing Director Mark Weller describes NextGenAccess as a carrier neutral, managed fibre infrastructure service provider.

“We design, plan, install and maintain new dark fibre routes that become integral to our customers’ core and access networks,” he explained. “We operate in a highly sustainable way and always look to re-use existing infrastructure assets in preference to building new ones. Our Openreach PIA licence gives us the right to deploy fibre and sub-duct anywhere within the UK’s most extensive network of ducts and poles. Our re-use approach is not only environmentally friendly, but is also far less disruptive, costly and time consuming than building from scratch.

“We have been working with Openreach and deploying fibre within their infrastructure since 2015. We started by building out extensions to carrier networks for some of the tier 1 carriers and more recently constructed a large (230km) network in South Essex with the anchor tenant being the combined local authorities in the area. We have also undertaken strategic builds such as connecting the Vantage CWL-1 Data Centre (formerly NGD) in Newport, South Wales to Bristol via the M48 bridge over the River Severn.

“All this has created a network of 450km and a platform for us to do what we have always wanted to do which is to build access networks and give our customers a Dark Fibre alternative to Openreach EAD services, thereby de-coupling cost from capacity. It means our customers can buy Dark Fibre from us and then be in total control of the speed of service they offer to their customers. This will allow our customers to steal a march on the market by offering competitive 10G access products but only pay for the access fibre at a single rate, whether it be for a 1G or 10G service.

As a ‘wholesale only’ business, NextGenAccess sees this development as key to driving growth and maintaining reseller margins in the future,” concluded Weller.

Falconer’s targets

Channel champion Bob Falconer, now a Non-Executive director at NextGenAccess, is aware the company’s offering won’t be for everyone in the channel.

“Our prospective customers will need a high degree of technical capability to light the dark fibre we’re offering in dense urban areas and layer 2 services in more rural locations where we already have a presence,” he said.

“Also, in the key exchanges in big cities they will need a presence to deploy their electronics. They may already have this in place together with the backhaul to the internet or it may be an aspiration of theirs. Our more likely targets are ‘super-resellers’ or aggregators where NGA can sit in the background.

“Our channel-only approach means that you won’t be competing with us for your customer’s attention. We just want to connect you up and support you going forward. “We have a presence in 10 exchanges at the moment and plans to connect 15 over the next 12 months. Contact us to see if the areas we have built or are planning to build are of interest to you and we are also keen on a more collaborative approach, where we build a bespoke network together to connect your existing and prospective customers.”

PIA is not a dark art

Or is it? It is a highly regulated area and this is not surprising. After all, Openreach is allowing NextGenAccess to get into the inner workings of their network to deploy its equipment.

As Steve Mackervoy stressed: “This comes with a huge responsibility as you may have other customers connected to that same network and nobody in telecoms likes downtime! So, the key for us is to behave responsibly.

“We have achieved the coveted ‘Path To Collaboration’ status meaning we have proven to be a trusted partner of Openreach across the UK. Simply put, this enables NGA to fix blockages when we find them without going back to Openreach for permission or a budget.

“We are not sitting back on our laurels; our teams have huge experience, and we are all focussed on retaining this ability to deploy on time and on budget,” added Mackervoy


For more information about Nextgenaccess
020 312 66521

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