Streaming 4K and 8K video will be no problem on copper broadband – thanks to something called G.fast.
G.fast, pronounced ‘gee dot fast’, is a next gen technology that promises to deliver gigabit broadband speeds over FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-type connections.
FTTC lines on BT’s Openreach network currently deliver top download and upload speeds of 80Mbps and 20Mbps.
Early tests of G.fast undertake by BT demonstrated download speeds of around 700Mbps and uploads of 200Mbps on the most common types of copper lines – good news for Netflix fans who don’t quite have enough lebensraum to stream House of Cards in 4K.
BT’s trials were however based on an early, non-standardised version of G.fast. Now the standard’s been defined the technology can, potentially, deliver faster speeds to more customers.
The ITU says that G.fast will allow for next-generation streaming services, HD Skype video calls and advanced cloud-based services to operate without a hitch.
While this sounds great on paper, when will we actually be able to order G.fast broadband from the likes of BT, Direct Save, TalkTalk and others?
Telecoms technology standards body the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) rubber-stamped the standard on December 5, meaning hardware manufacturers can start cranking out chipsets now. International industry consortium the Broadband Forum says it will kick of its first plugfest in January 2015, letting ISPs see which kit works best for them.
BT expects that it’ll be another three years at least before any G.fast services start popping up on any UK ISP’s product pages. Despite extensively trialling the emerging tech at its Adastral Park R&D centre in Ipswich, BT has made no firm commitment to deploy it.
By that time, FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband, which can comfortably deliver gigabit speeds, should be available to thousands of more UK homes and businesses.
BT’s commercial FTTP footprint currently stands at 160,000. As the various BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) schemes progress, more will be added. FTTP-only ISP Hyperoptic wants half a million customers by 2018, CityFibre is setting up new fibre networks in Aberdeen, Peterborough and York while rural providers Gigaclear, Fibre GarDen and B4RN are getting on with the business of creating full fibre networks up and down the country.