Skip Navigation

Sky expands core network in anticipation of usage doubling by June 2012
Friday 02 December 2011 10:34:19 by Andrew Ferguson

The scale of core networks is astounding, and the news that Sky has recently installed a 100 Gbps fibre link between Birmingham and London underlines this. The Sky core network comprises of some 7,000 km of fibre optic cables generally running alongside the old canal infrastructure. It also underscores the ability of fibre to cope with massive amounts of traffic, since this 100 Gbps link will utilise Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) to allow it to carry light at varying frequencies giving a total capacity of 7,000 Gbps (7 Tbps - Tera bits per second). To give some idea of the potential capacity this is enough capacity for 4.6 million people to be watching a different streamed HD movie at the same time.

With Sky's approach to offering a non traffic managed service to its LLU customers with unlimited packages available too, then having more than enough capacity in the core network is crucial to keeping customers happy. One interesting aspect of the Sky network, is that by keeping traffic from services like Anytime+ on its own network, the cost of providing this Video on Demand (VoD) library to its Broadband/Satellite TV bundle customers is reduced.

The firm predicts that the current 350 Gbps of traffic it sees from customers is set to double to 700 Gbps by June 2012. With some 3.2 million customers on the LLU service, this equates to 110 Kbps (Kilo bits per second) per customer, though usage patterns mean that even if all their broadband connections were online, it is unlikely they would all be actively transferring data.

It is not only the core network receiving upgrades, since March 2011 some 970 exchanges have seen capacity upgrades, and the current number of unbundled exchanges at 1,735 is set to increase to 1,932 by the end of January 2012, giving a coverage level of around 86% to 90% of UK households for its ADSL2+ based LLU service.


Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
Pretty impressive. Still no sign of an FTTC product?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
It's been a bit quiet really... I was expecting them to have their own trial site announced by now for PIA...
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
There's no reason to expect that level of traffic increase unless an FTTC product is imminent. The backhaul upgrades from exchanges point to it too.

2012 should be interesting for Sky customers.
Posted by Drefsab over 5 years ago
FTTC is certainly a strong motivator for this major upgrade.

That being said core network upgrades would be called for eventually without FTTC, the average user's bandwidth usage is constantly rising. Every ISP is seeing thing FTTC or not.
Posted by toppoff over 5 years ago
How do I find out if our exchange is one of those to go LLU next year?
Posted by mabibby over 5 years ago
I'm telling you now... over the next 5-10 years Sky will rule the Residential Broadband/Internet market.

They'll wait for BT to slog away with the governments money to put FTTC/FTTP in, then come along, hook up their backhaul.

This is turn will spell the end of the need for Sky to operate Satellite TV. Sky will be strictly VOD in 10 years I can assure you!

It's cheaper to maintain/install and easier to secure and control.
Posted by epyon over 5 years ago
Got to agree with dixinormous

looks like them preparing for FTTC
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Traffic increases constantly for sure but no way the user base is going to double total traffic in 6 months without substantial speed increases, such as those from FTTC.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
In other news I wasn't aware of DWDM equipment that can do the 280 25Gb/s wavelengths required to get 7Tb/s down a single fibre pair.

Any citation for this? 100GbE uses at least 4 wavelengths if not 10.
Posted by undecidedadrian over 5 years ago
It is unlikely to be in preparation of a FTTC service, last Decemebr whole counties were suffering from network congestion as more customers were added that didn't have the capacity on the network.

This then took 2 months for SKy to resolve getting that eztra capity installed.
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
You only need the existing wavelengths. A 80 Channel DWDM system could carry 8Tb ( 80 x 100Gb).
Thing is 1x 100Gb wavelength is not 10x the expense of 10 x 10Gb. Sky could have put 800Gb down the fibre by just using the rest of the DWDM channels. There was a 'total telecom plus' article about BT using 100Gb yesterday.
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
Surely it is a bad idea to rely on a single(?) fibre to carry such massive amounts of data ... what if the fibre is cut. They need to build a ring!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
I would expect there is a ring, it just may not have the same capacity at this time.

Ran the news as it shows they have not stopped investing in capacity yet.
Posted by ScubaGirl over 5 years ago
@toppoff: Sadly Sky do not advertise to us mere mortals when they are planning to upgrade a particular telephone exchange.

However they have been unbundling lots of exchanges in the past year and from what I can gather, thiroll-outut is planned to continue for the next year at least.

With this in mind, I suspect that part of the backhaul upgrade that this news story is about is to cover the expected growth from those who are being moved from Sky BB Connect to Sky BB Unlimited.
Posted by ScubaGirl over 5 years ago
...As for FTTC & FTTP, there is a thread elsewhere on the web which has been going strong for the last two years, ever since Sky announced trials for FTTC.

Since the announcement, various Sky Employees across the country have been using FTTC & last Summer South Harrow customers were offered the opportunity to try FTTP with Sky.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Thank you Jumpmum, I didn't realise that 100Gb per wavelength was out in the field yet, months behind.

Interesting stuff, doing 16QAM at an over 25 billion per second symbol rate. That's a lot of processing power doing DAC and ADC along with signal conditioning.
Posted by TheGuv over 5 years ago
Posted by mabibby - "This is turn will spell the end of the need for Sky to operate Satellite TV. Sky will be strictly VOD in 10 years I can assure you!"

Sky need to shift away from renting transponders in order to lower costs/continue market dominance IMO.

BT are currently building their TV network which will be on the end of any Wholesale line. This could reach a lot of people very quickly.

Posted by TheGuv over 5 years ago
The primary difference (as known just now) is that BT are deploying a model where the content is at the exchange - We don't know if Sky will be able to do the same. If not it will chew up lots of bandwidth on their backbone to deliver single streams.

The key to changing is the STB. The next SkyHD box needs to be fully IPTV compatible else they'll have to spend a lot of money changing over customers.

I think a Wholesale product will be at an advantage because several companies will want a slice and be willing to take a chance.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Current SkyHD box is IPTV compatible as in the Sky Anytime+ service delivered over Sky broadband.

This is different to the overnight Sky Anytime from satellite that most people get.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.