BT has connected trialists in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire to G.fast broadband lines, delivering download speeds of up to 330Mbps.
Like BT’s current VDSL FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services, G.fast (pronounced ‘g dot fast’) uses a mixture of fibre optic cable and copper telephone wires to deliver broadband services
The differece is, G.fast has the potential to go way beyond the speeds you get with BT Infinity 1.
Tests of G.fast in BT’s labs have demonstrated that speeds of 700Mbps and above are possible, but live trials, such as this one, are needed for engineers to get a more realistic idea of how G.fast will perform in the real world.
Related: 4K and 8K video is easily doable on G.fast and Inside BT’s G.fast labThat said, BT expects that G.fast will mean most customers will be able to enjoy download speeds of up to 500Mbps within a decade and the first commercial products could arrive as early as next year.
Joe Garner, CEO Openreach said: “Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future. This is the largest trial of G.fast technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams.
“The people of Huntingdon will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of the UK over the coming years.”
As with BT’s FTTC products, the speeds customers can get will depend on the length of that copper last mile. These early test results demonstrate the difference to speeds 47 metres of copper in the last mile can make.
The G.fast live trials are taking place in Huntingdon, a rural market town, Gosforth, a built up urban district of Newcastle and the Welsh city of Swansea. The differences in population dispersal should give BT an idea of how well the technology will perform in a variety of areas.
The Huntingdon trial will run for 6-9 months and will involve over 2,000 trialists. As well as G.fast, BT is bringing its Fibre on Demand service back from the grave, with a view to testing out gigabit services over FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines. It’s expected that Fibre on Demand, which lets customers pay to upgrade the copper last mile of an FTTC line with a fibre optic link, will be as business-only service, at least initially.
While BT expects that G.fast-based services could hit the market by late 2016 to early 2017, it’s less clear on when gigabit Fibre on Demand will be available.