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Upp invests in network design to ‘speed up' roll-out

New UK ISP and network builder, Upp has invested in a software solution to help tackle the shortage of fibre network designers in the UK.

The company, which began its life in 2020 (then known as FibreMe), committed last year to investing £1bn to deploy a full fibre network to 1 million premises in eastern England by 2025. It has already started work in towns in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, where it has extensively been usingOpenreach’s ducts and poles, as well as access assets from other infrastructure owners to accelerate deployment and minimise disruption.

Upp has now partnered with Comsof Fibre and GE Digital, using the latter’s Smallworld Network Inventory, to design its FTTx networks. The solution provided by Comsof and GE Digital means that Upp can roll out its network, unhampered by the shortage of fibre network designers in the UK - it can take years of training and experience before a designer can independently produce network plans of high quality. The companies say that the software will allow for the design of an optimised, consistent and error free network, speeding up the rollout process by 80 per cent and lowering build costs.

Alex Marshall, chief technology innovation officer at Upp explained: ‘The software is proving to deliver everything we hoped it would and more. We are so pleased to be able to recruit individuals from all walks of life and provide them with on-the-job training. This enables them to work independently in a matter of weeks rather than years, equipping them with a brand-new skill set to add to their CV. It’s fantastic to see the fast progress which is already being made to our build.’

As an example, Katie Byne is a recent school leaver who now works for Upp as a planner. Byne revealed: ‘For someone like me who has dyslexia, the opportunity to join Upp as a planner really appealed as I never enjoyed written subjects in school and didn’t want to go to university. The job works so well for me and I can’t believe how quickly I am advancing with the software.’

Raf Meersman, CEO at Comsof added ‘Although Upp are a newcomer into the operator field, they immediately took an end-to-end approach to the fibre network rollout. From the get-go, they looked at using Comsof Fibre for auto design in a fully integrated way with GE Smallworld, because they were already thinking in terms of inventory and design harmony. As we know, there is a designer shortage in the fibre network design industry and our tool helps to get more designers on their feet faster.’

Jim Walsh, general manager for GE Digital’s Grid Software business concluded: ‘We are excited to partner with Upp and Comsof to create solutions that enable the next generation of planning. By investing in the right people and the right systems to reduce build and design time, these solutions have allowed Upp to make a meaningful impact for their customers.’

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