Openreach launches ‘virtual dark fibre’ service

Openreach, Britain’s leading digital network business, today launched the UK’s first high-bandwidth managed service that allows Communications Providers (CPs) to operate private data connections using ‘virtual dark fibre’.

Once connected, customers will be able to significantly scale up capacity by adding channels - each able to support 100Gbps – with a maximum bandwidth of more than 3 Terabits – enough to download the entire human genome in less than a second.

This virtual dark fibre service (labelled Optical Spectrum Access Filter Connect or ‘OSA FC’) gives CPs all the key benefits of dark fibre – like the freedom to control and increase bandwidth usage at no extra cost – without compromising on service and maintenance levels.

It works by enabling CPs to operate their own network electronics on top of a managed connection which Openreach can monitor 24/7 and provide rapid response and repair times over. Whilst a fault on dark fibre could take days to discover and repair, Openreach will guarantee an industry-leading five hour repair time on OSA Filter Connect services.

Darren Wallington, Openreach’s General Manager for High Bandwidth and Passive Products, said: “We’ve re-engineered our high-bandwidth optical services to give our wholesale customers far greater flexibility at a fantastic price. OSA Filter Connect allows providers to grow their needs affordably, at their own pace and using their choice of innovative equipment.

“By innovating a virtual dark fibre service, we can give customers that extra flexibility whilst still being able to monitor our network and respond to faults and issues proactively. With a regulated Dark Fibre Access product, we would’ve literally been left in the dark with no monitoring capabilities and significantly longer service interruptions due to the reactive nature of fault reporting, but this means we can commit to a national five-hour response time.”

The new service is an extension of Openreach’s OSA portfolio and is built over a new or existing Optical Spectrum Access service – a dedicated optical fibre link used to move very large amounts of data between two locations.

The Filter Connect feature uses spare capacity on an optical filter – a piece of kit that splits out different wavelengths of light over the fibre – and provides additional channels so that CPs can connect their own equipment to manage and transmit data free of charge on top of the existing Openreach managed service.

In addition to the OSA Filter Connect product, Openreach will continue to offer additional managed OSA services and is looking to address market needs with a range of competitive pricing reductions across the Optical portfolio from April 3.*

Openreach has been working closely with CP customers to develop OSA FC before holding a month long consultation in October 2017 to discuss how the product could be tailored to meet customer needs and offer a viable alternative to the Ofcom-proposed regulated Dark Fibre Access (DFA) product. Following the consultation Openreach consolidated a range of benefits into the service including;

  • Scalability - Openreach provides the Optical bearer and includes 10Gbps of capacity by lighting the first wavelength. Subsequently, customers are able to access the remaining capacity and manage it themselves.
  • Pricing – customers can decouple the cost of connectivity from bandwidth scaling and Openreach assumes responsibility for non-domestic rates. 
  • Flexibility - Upgrade and certification options available so customers can convert their existing installed OSA FSP3000 base to enable the addition of their own equipment through the optical filters. Configuration options are available via point-to-point or hub & spoke designs.
  • Assurance – Established Service Level Agreements; 35 working-day delivery lead time and five hour fix time. Buying additional Openreach managed wavelengths still remains an option for customers who prefer not to manage their own optical electronics.
  • Space – Design premise based on minimal space usage.
  • Ability to support fast evolving technology - supports phase synchronisation for 5G technology.

Darren added: “We’ve listened closely to our customers. They wanted something that would address the perceived failings of a ‘one size fits all’ regulated product and they’ve helped us to shape the product we’re launching”

“Both large and small customers told us they wanted a service that offered more competitive high bandwidth pricing with low incremental scaling costs. They also wanted more flexible and configurable services that give them more control, the ability to support fast evolving technology – like synchronization, and more efficient use of space and power.”


Notes to editors


*Pricing - OSA filter connect prices below, note the 5 year term variant is less than our original consultation range

  • This provides CPs with a 10GB managed service with spare filter ports that they can use to scale to higher bandwidth by themselves with no additional costs from Openreach. We will continue to offer additional Managed Wavelengths for those CP’s who prefer a managed service at very competitive price points.
ProductMinimum PeriodConnection £ Exc VATRental per annum £ Exc VAT
OSA Filter Connect FSP3000 - 12 month12 month£15,550£7,845
OSA Filter Connect FSP3000 - 36 month36 month£12,233£6,276
OSA Filter Connect FSP3000 - 60 month60 month£12,233£5,775

* Can be upgraded to 20Gb without a site visit

EAD 10Gb will see connection prices reduced by up to 32% and rentals by up to 53%

At the same time the 5 year term variant will now in effect make be a 3 year term product, as we’ve set the early termination charges for Year 4 and 5 to zero.

ProductCharge typeCurrent PriceNew price for 3 April 2018Price reduction
EAD 10000Connection£5,990£5,590-6%
EAD 10000Rental£10,500£4,980-53%
EAD 10000 (60 month minimum period)Connection£5,990£4,090-32%
EAD 10000 (60 month minimum period)Rental£8,400£4,380-48%
EAD Local Access 10000Connection£5,990£5,590-6%
EAD Local Access 10000Rental£7,500£4,146-45%
EAD Local Access 10000 (60 month minimum period)Connection£5,990£4,090-32%
EAD Local Access 10000 (60 month minimum period)Rental£6,000£3,648-39%

Dual Fibre Main Link, the headline rate will be reduced from 37.2p to 24p

OSA Main Link charge featureCurrent price (pence per meter)Price on 3 April 2018 (pence per meter)
Main link per metre or part thereof37.224.0
Main link + Standby link per metre or part thereof82.857.6
Diverse main link per metre or part thereof42.028.8




For further information

Enquiries about this story can be made to the Openreach PR team on: 020 7809 7950 or email press@openreach.co.uk.

All news releases can be accessed on our web site.

Data is transported over optical fibre networks by passing light through glass cables thinner than a human hair. If no data is being transported, there is no light and the fibre is ‘dark’. ‘Dark Fibre’ is basically an optical fibre that isn’t in use.

OSA products provide CPs with secure, permanently connected, high speed data circuits that use Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology on dedicated fibre. DWDM allows multiple data signals to be transmitted simultaneously over the same optical fibres – used for a range of premium services from cloud applications and next generation data centres to high speed file transfer and business continuity solutions, such as information storage and retrieval.