Gibtelecom Plans Massive Fiber Optic Broadband Deployment


The incumbent telecom operator of Gibraltar, the Gibtelecom is planning for a nationwide high speed broadband network. In order to support the front end of broadband networks, the operator is intending for an overhaul of its existing legacy networks by upgrading and or replacing it with fiber optic cables in the backbone. Gibtelecom intends to provide its Gibraltar based customers with ultrafast broadband. Operator’s strategy is to augment its current networks with the latest optical fiber cable network that will be capable of delivering high capacity, high bandwidth services to its current and future customers.

Gibtelecom has identified the scope of work to be carried out to execute the deployment of broadband in the country. This will require a new national network that is based on optical fiber cables. Optical fiber cables can only handle the high volume of traffic generated by modern applications. As copper cables are limited in their bandwidth capacity, Gibtelecom understands that it needs to go for an all-optical fiber network in order to deliver high-speed broadband services to the residents and businesses in the country.

The operator has now invited proposals from interested parties to supply optical fiber cables and other components for the project. Since there are no cable or accessories manufacturers in the territory, this is an opportunity for suppliers in the surrounding countries to participate in the project.

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian peninsula with an area of 6.7 square kilometers and shares its northern border with Spain. The history of Gibraltar is complicated with the Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. Gibraltar was subsequently ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Gibraltar’s economy is based on tourism mainly, online gambling, financial services, and shipping. Now Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though the defense and foreign relations etc. are controlled by the United Kingdom.

Since Gibraltar is a small territory with less number of people, but at the same time having high population density network design and deployment would be challenging. Gibraltar has a population density of around 4477 people per square kilometers. Most people live in apartments, that are in Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU’s). These MDU building types span several generations and includes historically old buildings such as those belonging to the 1700s-1800s. These buildings at the Town center are with little or no internal infrastructure to accommodate broadband infrastructure or related civil works. Buildings that were built during the 1950s are also without sufficient internal infrastructure. Cabling to such buildings are now done through common access points. The third type of buildings belongs to those constructed during the 1960 – 1970s with small riser space and conduits in each apartment. Apartments constructed during the 1980-1990 period have trays and riser space built for legacy networks. New apartments that are just built or under construction have sufficient infrastructure for cabling. Gibraltar also has many individual houses that are usually served by ducts and sometimes over the aerial poles. Gibtelecom estimates that there would increase in homes over the next few years of approximately 2,000 apartments.

Suppliers need to keep in mind the above facts and multiple deployment scenarios while sending their proposals to the telecom. The architecture will be based on “Point to Point” (P2P) as opposed to the popular Point to Multipoint (P2MP), which is described in GPON standards. The operator thinks Point to Point architecture is the optimum solution, futureproofing and maximizing investment for the foreseeable future considering the subscriber distribution and geographical nature of the territory. P2P architecture is expected to provide the market edge in the future.

By inviting proposals from suppliers, the operator intends to utilize a single supplier for the branching side of the network and for all the elements that this will require to construct and maintain. The current invitation from suppliers is to cover the in-building cabling from the basement/curb Patch Panel to the individual home for different scenarios.

Gibtelecom is the main telecommunications provider in Gibraltar and has an extensive duct infrastructure throughout the territory. The provider has a customer base of about 15,000 homes and 4,000 businesses. Gibtelecom’s main business areas are Wireline (both copper and optical fiber cable based services), Wireless (GSM, 3G and 4G+ services for mobile phone users) and Broadband (internet access for Corporations and the home users). Gibtelecom’s portfolio also includes Data Centre hosting, and an extensive international network including part ownership of the Europe India Gateway (EIG) submarine cable.

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