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How UK altnets can optimize fiber rollout with an integrated PIA strategy

The UK altnet market has expanded rapidly, and now we are seeing clear signs of the inevitable consolidation of this market. Regardless of consolidation, the objective remains the same: to deliver high-speed broadband services to, often under-served areas and support the UK’s rapidly evolving digital economy.


Often starting from scratch, altnet providers are working quickly to develop a software strategy that supports their fiber planning and design requirements. IQGeo is fortunate to already work with several of these ambitious UK organizations, who have chosen the IQGeo software as their geospatial platform. We have been working closely with them to develop optimized network management processes that meet their unique business requirements.

The role of Openreach Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) for UK altnets

One resource that is essential for virtually all altnet providers is the Openreach Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) environment. This database of ducts and poles enables altnets to understand the current Openreach network infrastructure and use it efficiently in their own fiber rollout planning, dramatically reducing network construction costs. When integrated with Openreach’s APIs, this enables the creation of a seamless, automated design process resulting in an accurate record of the network build that is critical to the long-term success of altnet providers to support both network operations and potentially M&A activity.

Implementing a cohesive PIA approach with automation 

With IQGeo’s PIA module, it is now possible for altnets to seamlessly integrate the PIA data into the design and build process. Initially, the altnet can download the network asset data from Openreach for either a specific geographic location or an entire exchange area. Typically, the altnet will then undertake an onsite survey to validate the OpenReach data and ensure that the OpenReach infrastructure will be usable. This requires an intrusive survey which is only possible when the altnet has issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) to OpenReach. The NOI must contain every Openreach asset that will be surveyed, which can be a time-consuming activity to create and then manage. IQGeo’s solution enables altnets to automate this process by easily creating NOI based on an area selection and then submitting this via the OpenReach API.




Operators can combine the Openreach pole and duct information with their own network data and then share it on mobile devices with field staff or contractors for their site survey. Field teams inspect the site and identify any defects, capturing photographic and written evidence to record a defect that is sent directly back to Openreach from the field – the so-called A55 process.

Engineers in the office also have immediate access to the field information so they can prepare the fiber rollout designs. The feedback from field teams can be used to modify the network design and NOIs to reflect the planned build. With construction scheduled the field teams are, once again, given the key information they need on their mobile devices. They begin the construction process and capture and submit the as-built information back to their engineering team as well as the required evidence to Openreach, completing a seamless data update. Multiple processes like this are happening in parallel across different areas and often with different contractors.

PIA Network Adjustment API integration for a seamless process

A key need is to be able to report back to Openreach issues that are identified within the Openreach network. This process uses the PIA Network Adjustment API which enables operators to submit these complex issues directly without the need to complete complex forms, so called A55s. IQGeo’s PIA Module enables operators to create a flexible workflow to handle the submission of A55s, either directly from the field or with office staff first validating the requests to ensure data quality and completeness. Online submission via the API also provides operators with a record of what was submitted when and allows users to follow-up with submissions that are not progressing through the process with Openreach saving operators considerable manual effort. In due course further functionality contained within the Network Adjustment API will be provided within the PIA Module.

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Streamlined infrastructure operations and maintenance workflow 

Our experience with altnets and Openreach tells us that our mobile-first geospatial software helps our customers integrate the PIA data into all their survey, construction and maintenance processes to create a single integrated platform that is shared by all stakeholders. We have seamlessly integrated and automated the NOI creation, evidence submission, and defect management requirements from Openreach with the operators’ own workflows. This maximizes collaboration between the teams and increases operational efficiency, streamlining construction processes and, crucially, accelerating time-to-revenue.

Integrating Openreach’s PIA APIs enables seamless construction and maintenance workflow management. It also forms the foundation of an end-to-end geospatial strategy not only serving short-term rollout priorities, but also for highly efficient on-going operations as these ambitious altnet providers grow and expand into new geographies.

Achieving business objectives with PIA

IQGeo's award winning geospatial software - Network Manager Telecom can help support an integrated PIA strategy for fiber planning and design requirements. UK fiber operators can quickly and easily deploy our industry-leading fiber network solution, enabling quick configuration and implementation to optimize operations across the entire lifecycle from a single platform, whether deployed on-premise or in the cloud.

Connect with our team of industry experts for a demo to see Network Manager Telecom in action.


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Topics: Geospatial software, Fiber to the home (FTTH), Telecommunications, Fiber optic networks, Blogs, Fiber planning and design, Fiber

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Network Manager Telecom PIA module

If you want to quickly automate and integrate your Openreach PIA strategy, IQGeo makes it simple with our user-friendly PIA module, see how easy we make it.

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