CityFibre invests in advanced test automation, making new technology and network upgrade testing up to 100x faster

Corporate news

CityFibre invests in advanced test automation, making new technology and network upgrade testing up to 100x faster

11 July 2024

FEX equipment
  • Test infrastructure from Red Helix and design and implementation expertise from IGXGlobal UK, enables full automation of test environment for network upgrades and product launches
  • Automated testing accelerates speed to market, with testing up to 100x faster and test capacity increased by 300%
  • New testing framework uses Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery to increase network operation efficiency and streamline adoption of emerging technologies.

CityFibre, the UK’s largest independent full fibre network, has now fully automated its network infrastructure platform test environment – a dedicated facility where all its new products, network technology changes and software upgrades are rigorously tested prior to implementation across its nationwide network.

Advanced test infrastructure provided by test automation market leader Red Helix, combined with a bespoke automation framework designed and built with professional services from IGXGlobal UK, an ePlus Technology, inc. company, has enabled CityFibre to significantly increase the speed, volume and accuracy of its testing, while also supporting innovation and future introduction of emerging technologies.

The new end-to-end test automation capability enables testing to be carried out up to 100x faster while increasing test capacity by 300%. With tests previously taking 15 minutes now taking under 10 seconds and the ability to run tests outside core working hours, CityFibre’s engineers have more time to address issues raised during the tests themselves. The automation solution also enables rapid analysis and interrogation of test data, while maximising equipment lifecycle by reducing manual touches in an otherwise high touch environment.

The test infrastructure provided by Red Helix combines advanced technologies such as Keysight Ixia Novus and IxLoad platforms to simulate complex network environments and improve equipment lifecycle, reliability and flexibility. To facilitate seamless physical connectivity and eliminate the need for cabling before each test, Huber+Suhner Polatis optical switches and Lepton Systems Layer 1 switches are used. The test infrastructure environment is then controlled using Quali CloudShell test automation software, allowing for continuous remote testing, scheduling, and management of multiple tests through a simple interface, with consolidated reporting.

Design and implementation expertise provided by IGXGlobal UK helped to deliver the new automated testing framework. The framework, which incorporates robust Open Source Testing Frameworks integrated into Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) tooling, enables engineers to schedule and rapidly perform hundreds of tests in a single keystroke, with results then automatically highlighting issues. The same framework also enables CityFibre to fully test any new software release or emerging technology in a consistent and repeatable way.

As a result, CityFibre is now able to accelerate operational readiness and bring new products, network technology and software upgrades to market sooner.

David Tomalin, CityFibre’s Group CTO, said: “Rigorous testing is key to ensuring that new products and network technology upgrades can get to market faster. The new carrier grade, future-fit testing infrastructure and processes we have put in place through our partnerships with Red Helix and IGXGlobal UK have transformed our capabilities, driving greater speed, volume, accuracy and efficiency. This will deliver even better outcomes for our wholesale partners and the homes and businesses they serve.”

Rob Pocock, Technology Director at Red Helix, added: “CityFibre’s determination to implement a world-class test automation environment has made this project hugely rewarding. We were chosen as a trusted partner due to our proven track record for increasing test environment capability for major network operators. Without the burden of legacy technology and systems, CityFibre is now able to harness the full potential of test automation. This dramatically improves the quality of its testing and the speed at which it can innovate and implement change, maintaining its position as the full fibre market leader.”

Rob Neep, Account Director at IGXGlobal UK, said: “Our professional services have enabled CityFibre to launch its innovative new testing framework. The framework greatly enhances CityFibre’s operational excellence and testing capabilities by significantly reducing test duration and increasing test throughput. It also helps maximise investment in testing infrastructure and accelerates adoption of emerging technologies. As a long-term partner, we’re excited to help CityFibre leverage innovation in order to maximise service quality, network performance, and security for the benefit of its wholesale partners.”