Zzoomm plc is a fast growing Full Fibre broadband service provider (ISP), serving homes and businesses in Henley-on-Thames, building a brand new network in Hereford, and planning to serve many more towns and cities across the United Kingdom. A key part of implementing the network infrastructure has been outsourced to ICEE Managed Services, namely designing, manufacturing, fitting-out, installing and maintaining bespoke ‘active’ equipment enclosures
Founded in December 2018 by Matthew Hare OBE, an ISP industry veteran, Zzoomm Full Fibre broadband differentiates itself from big-name competitors through agility and swift action, backed by the best possible broadband technology. It offers great value-for-money services that reflect the fast-changing demands of its customers.
Pressure imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns is an example. For many people, having to work from home places big strains on two-way data exchange based on copper or a combination of copper and fibre optic cable such as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) networks. This is amplified when a whole family – and many web-enabled devices - have to share a copper-based connection, not to mention the whole street.
With its pure full fibre infrastructure delivered straight into the property, Zzoomm claim their most popular home service (400Mbps) is six times faster than other ISPs in Henley-on-Thames that depend on copper, or combinations. Thanks to advanced investment in technology, today the company also offers other residential broadband speeds up to 2,000Mbps, or business services which can reach an amazing 10,000Mbps.
Aiming to serve one million customers by 2025 the company targets under supported market towns. Famous for its annual Henley Royal Regatta rowing festival, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, is an example. With around 12,000 inhabitants, the town was selected by Zzoomm as a launch pad for its highly competitive infrastructure and broadband products. At the completion of this rollout in November 2020, the company claims Henley now has one of the fastest broadband networks in the country.
Zzoomm places great emphasis on installing high quality infrastructure, designed and implemented to last reliably for many decades and flexible enough to accommodate the latest technical innovations. This includes allowing plenty of spare capacity for future expansion. Not only homes and businesses require advanced broadband, escalating demands created by data-hungry ‘smart city’ public services and the rapid increase in new developments such as the internet of things (IoT) mean copper is rapidly becoming a serious bottleneck to progress
Bespoke enclosures offer a competitive edge
For a number of reasons, Zzoomm wanted a bespoke solution for its active, or tier-one level equipment cabinets, the key distribution nodes on the network. The core design had to be right because it would be the blueprint for all such cabinets going forward, to be used in every town in Zzoomm’s business plan. Although bespoke, in effect it would be the company’s standard cabinet, but with designed-in flexibility to easily change or update internal equipment, add fibre optic cables, or bolt on extensions to the enclosure.
Additionally, there is a highly competitive element. When this case study was written Sven Huster was Zzoomm's Engineering Director and has since left the company, but said at the time: “This is a very specialised market. To gain competitive edge, every operator deploys slightly different equipment into a street cabinet in a slightly different way. So there’s a lot of customisation and there are quite a few design considerations to then make the solution practical.”
He added, although fibre optic broadband technology is characterised by rapid change and continual improvement, “the point here is much more that
A standard or off-the-shelf enclosure would be unlikely to accommodate all this potential technology ‘churn’, nor might it provide a ready means – space, bracketry and other features - to replace, re-configure or add internal components when required. With bespoke, Zzoomm could put in place all the details necessary to facilitate future changes.
Above all, Zzoomm wanted to fully outsource the whole process of enclosure design and development, manufacture and fit-out, installation, upgrading and maintenance. It wanted a reliable and well-proven partner that could meet contrasting demands - first managing the special and time-consuming process of transforming a prototype into a production asset, but soon after having the necessary resources to fully support Zzoomm as it expanded its business across the country.
A complete solution from ICEE
Zzoomm found the ideal solution in a highly integrated, one-source package from ICEE Managed Services. Based on four decades proven experience delivering successful outcomes to large and small telecommunication customers, ICEE would have no problem providing the total solution required. Specialising in designing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining enclosures for highway, rail-side and FTTx applications, it offered all the relevant business credentials, quality standards accreditation and track record required.
Sven Huster explained: “For us to undertake that whole process by ourselves, without having an engineering R&D function and so on, would be quite difficult to do, and that’s why it was important to pick a partner like ICEE, that can help us with the expertise and advise on the equipment we want to use.”
He and his team began working closely with ICEE’s design department. Early in the project, at the prototype stage when the first enclosure was being developed, the internet service provider wanted to insert an equipment assembly into the active cabinet, but in one large piece. It was hard to fit in from the front, so ICEE quickly modified the structure enabling the whole assembly to be easily manoeuvred in from one side. This meant creating a side door, tested at the design stage on a screen-based, three-dimensional prototype constructed on ICEE’s Solidworks 3D CAD system.
ICEE does a lot of screen-based, virtual prototyping using 3D simulations. Options may be explored rapidly and accurately, it eliminates building several costly physical iterations, design for manufacture is optimised, right-first-time production made faster, and the work may be done collaboratively over the web, saving meeting time and travel.
Another bespoke benefit
ICEE Key Account Manager Chris Arnold points to another practical design feature: “The active cabinet we designed with Zzoomm consists of two distinct bays, one for power, the other for equipment. This clear separation makes it easier and simpler for a maintenance engineer to work. It cuts the risk of accidental damage and gets jobs done more efficiently.”
To prevent unauthorised entry into a cabinet Zzoomm also required a high level of security, plus a way of monitoring and recording access by authorised engineers. “The locks and keys we sourced for Zzoomm are smart and incorporate Bluetooth wireless communications,” explains Chris Arnold. “The company’s management sends an engineer out to a cabinet and through Bluetooth-enabled keys and the engineer’s mobile phone, unlocks and locks the cabinet doors remotely and records job time. Full security is assured and the transmitted data helps streamline maintenance, provides an audit or traceability trail and ultimately, makes a positive contribution to business process productivity and profitability.”
Outcomes and tangible benefits
With all ICEE’s design, development and manufacturing resources, plus dependable installation and ongoing maintenance services, Zzoomm has gained an experienced and dependable partner. The customer also has full confidence, knowing ICEE will reliably and fully support its business growth plans. In short, the customer benefits from the provision of a complete and scalable support solution. This is vital as the ambitious ISP expands to other towns across the UK.
Sven Huster concluded: “I was told by my colleagues ICEE would be a great partner to work with. I think everything I have seen so far supports that. First of all, they have the expertise on what we want to achieve, but they also have the relationships as well.
“This is important because the cabinet is not just what they make, which is like a metal shell and so on, but it is a lot of things which then get put into the cabinet, which they source and help us put together in a useful way, so we have a durable and robust solution there. They have always been quick to respond and that reinforces the sense we have picked a good partner to work with us.”