BT and Huawei have announced details of a trial of G.fast technology which has the potential to deliver download speeds of up to 1Gbps.
The technology allows for such speeds to be delivered over copper lines over 100 meters long. Over longer distances speeds would decrease but would still provide more bandwidth than what’s currently available on BT’s FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) connections.
The copper ‘last mile’ of an FTTC connection would effectively be tubro charged, pushing faster speeds into more areas.
BT has been mulling the possibility of a G.fast technical trial since March this year.
Taking place close to BT’s Adastral Park research centre in Ipswich, the trial intends to reveal exactly how fast G.fast can go and what benefits it can bring to customers on the Openreach network.
Dr Tim Whitley, managing director for research and innovation said: “The G.fast trial has the potential to demonstrate how ultrafast bandwidth access may be more efficiently delivered to consumers and businesses.
“We will be observing the results of the trial with interest to see whether G.fast technology could play a role in ensuring BT has the best network in the short, medium and long term.”
G.fast technology could allow some of the 19 million customers who will be connected to FTTC lines on the Openreach network to enjoy speeds similar to those who are able to get FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband from BT.
BT’s FTTP lines currently provide download speeds of up to 330Mbps but are only available in 15 exchange areas. An FTTP On Demand service is available, but it’s expensive and currently only for business customers. G.fast by contrast would benefit everyone.
Huawei says that G.fast can work at distances of up to 250 metres, adding that typical drop cables in the UK shorter than this. This means that more people than most should benefit.
Customers connected to FTTC under the BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) programmes would also benefit, although the copper last mile in some rural areas are likely to be longer.
Trials of vectoring technology, which helps to reduce interference on copper, could be combined with G.fast.
Gao Ji, Huawei chief strategy and marketing officer for western Europe, adds: “By utilising new copper wire technologies, such as Vectoring and G.fast, carriers can make more efficient use of their resources and quickly implement bandwidth strategies, helping to achieve commercial success.
“Huawei will continue to invest in copper wire technology and plans to lead further innovations in this area.”
A standard for G.fast has yet to be defined by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). Though first stage approval has been granted, a draft is expected to be released by the end of 2013. The ITU currently estimates that consumers can expect to benefit from G.fast services in 2015.