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Austrian ISP tests G.fast in the wild as BT continues lab trials

As BT continues to test out G.fast in the labs, leading Austrian ISP A1 Telekom has connected its first domestic customer to the emerging technology. 

The Austrian ISP and partners Alcatel-Lucent are claiming this is the world’s first application of G.fast in a domestic environment. 

Previous trials by the likes of Alcatel-Lucent and BT have all taken place in labs or environments designed to simulate real-life network conditions, but this is allegedly the first time G.fast has been spotted out in the wild. 

When will the UK get G.fast? Openreach engineers setting up a BT street cabinet
When will the UK get G.fast? Openreach engineers setting up a BT street cabinet

The technology is very much viewed as a stopgap measure by Austria’s biggest ISP. A1 Telekom eventually plans to roll out FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) to its roughly 2.3 million customers but for now, like BT, it’s exploring how fast legacy copper-based technology can go. 

Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO Telekom Austria Group and A1 said: “We’re proud to have succeeded in connecting the first customer in the world to our domestic A1 network with G.fast. 

“This technology will enable us to offer urban areas data rates ten, even up to twenty, times higher than ever before. Fibre to the home remains our long term vision, but we consider G.fast as an intelligent interim solution until fibre will have a similar coverage as we have with copper now.”

It’s not clear what speeds are being delivered by A1 Telekom’s G.fast connection. Hundreds of megabits a second are mentioned in press material but its unclear what download and upload speeds are being achieved by A1’s mystery customer. 

BT’s G.fast trials suggested that download speeds of around 700Mbps and upload speeds of 200Mbps would be possible on copper ‘last mile’ connections 66 metres long. Alcatel-Lucent’s earlier results suggest that similar speeds should be possible at distances of 100 metres. 

Without knowing how long this customer’s line is it’s impossible to guess. Industry blog ISP Review quotes an Alcatel-Lucent source saying that an A1 customer recently performed a speed test that yielded results of 536Mbps down and 116Mbps up. 

Even though it could be a while before G.fast makes a difference to British customers, A1 Telekom believes that the technology is ready to deliver triple digit download speeds to over 400,000 properties in Vienna alone. Pending further tests, A1 is hoping to kick off a wide-scale rollout G.fast in 2016. 

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