Wail Sabbagh, MD of Strategic Imperatives, an innovator in billing and provisioning solutions, provides an update on the success of the Fibre Café and the new opportunities it opens to ISPs.

The Fibre Café has been created to provide ISPs with a gateway into the UK’s vibrant and expanding fibre ecosystem. It gives them significant business agility by automating and widening their access to multiple wholesale channels and service providers whilst removing the need for slow, complex and expensive integrations.

In a fast-moving and rapidly changing environment where traditional business models are challenged, new opportunities are emerging for ISPs to scale and grow. Embracing automation and agility unlocks doors that once seemed closed. For the majority of mid-to-large ISPs, the integration with other connectivity and service providers has always been a major barrier to achieving the level of agility and adaptability required to scale in this dynamic landscape. Previously, once a partner had been selected and integrated with, if that partner became too costly or no longer delivered an appropriate service, a change would be extremely time-consuming, resource intensive and costly.

The Fibre Café removes many of these business and technology issues. Rather than rely on legacy technology or sticking with one supplier, ISPs can now join the Fibre Café to access multiple wholesale channel partners and a wide range of service providers.

Shifting market

The new connectivity landscape offers unprecedented potential for those prepared to innovate and adapt. With the PSTN switch-off on the horizon and the shift to fibre in full flow, a new breed of ISPs is emerging that is far less dependent on the incumbent suppliers. In this emerging landscape, the industry stalwarts are being challenged by the AltNets with their alternative fibre footprints, faster speeds, and lower costs. The growing roster of national or regional fibre providers includes City Fibre, Netomnia, and Trooli, with smaller providers expanding coverage into fibre deserts, such as Cornwall’s Wildanet or Hull’s MS3 Networks.

The result is that resellers and service providers in the market now have far more choice and an opportunity to expand their fibre services and diversify their product portfolios. With one unified interface and one standard order journey, the Fibre Café is a gateway to other UK connectivity providers and the channel. Its advanced automation makes it easy for ISPs and their partners to add, remove or combine multiple providers. It also ensures a standard way to communicate with customers on the progress of orders.

Open for business

Today, supplier members of the Fibre Café cover 80% of the UK’s connectivity landscape, and its success is reflected in the impressive roster of industry leaders that have already joined, including TalkTalk, BT Wholesale, City Fibre, and Freedom Fibre, with many more on the horizon.

TalkTalk was our anchor Fibre Café member. They made a strategic decision to expand their geographic coverage by working with several AltNets. However, they faced significant challenges, including high development costs, compromised architectural integrity, and ongoing maintenance costs. As a member of the Fibre Café, TalkTalk is now able to rapidly connect to multiple AltNets using a simple integration framework with a well-defined API and automated toolset.

BT Wholesale’s decision to join the Fibre Café was a game-changer for many of its resellers seeking a simplified, cost-effective interface to their extensive range of fibre solutions. By integrating with the Café, BT Wholesale has enabled Café members such as XLN to access their fibre network rapidly. Furthermore, by connecting to BT Wholesale via our Café, these providers also gained instant access to other AltNets and connectivity providers, thus future-proofing their investment and increasing their supplier agility.

Our vision to create an industry-standard as well as a transformative technology solution was realised when a number of UK’s AltNets adopted the Fibre Café's API as their external API. By using the same provisioning interface as the Café, these AltNets can access a proven and secure interface developed by industry experts, saving them considerable time and money and freeing them to focus on their core business.

It’s interesting to note that some of our AltNet members initially joined as tenants or consumers rather than suppliers with the aim of expanding their fibre footprints using Openreach. They specifically wanted to remove the demands of having to tackle Openreach’s legacy technology and complex integration processes.

On the reseller side, many members have joined the Fibre Café to connect to one of the national providers, such as Openreach or BT Wholesale, with the added flexibility of being able to work with
other connectivity providers in the future.

The start of a new chapter

The Fibre Café seamlessly connects connectivity providers and disparate AltNets with resellers and ISPs. It eliminates the primary obstacle that has held back the UK wholesale fibre market: the complex, expensive, and inefficient "spaghetti" matrix of point-to-point integrations.

For all our members, the Fibre Café is more than a technological solution. We have invested in the ecosystem to ensure onboarding is as straightforward as possible, requiring one skill set, backed up by a full support programme. Once an ISP has integrated with a partner, they are integrated with every other member on the platform. The unified interface ensures full automation across all orders, with everything in one place and in one standard format.

We believe the Fibre Café is not just a game-changing solution for the UK's wholesale fibre market – it will be a catalyst for standardisation and further market innovation. By creating a unified API, standardised order journeys and a fully managed gateway, we have streamlined and simplified the process of connecting disparate connectivity and communication providers. Discussions can now focus exclusively on opportunities and not on the technology and deployment challenges.