The demand for superfast broadband is growing as bandwidth-intensive services such as Ultra-HD streaming, next-generation IPTV, communications via HD video and advanced cloud-based storage become the norm.
Fibre-optic Internet access enables the fastest connections, but in urban areas already wired with legacy copper telephone wiring, deploying Fibre to the Home (FTTH) services may not be the most pragmatic means of increasing the capacity of homes and businesses’ broadband connections.
Enter ITU’s G.fast technology, which can significantly boost the broadband speeds that can be delivered over existing copper lines.
G.fast offers a solution
In ‘brownfield’ scenarios – buildings or streets laden with an abundance of copper telephone wiring – G.fast gives operators the ability to combine the best aspects of optical networks and DSL access technologies.
ITU’s G.fast broadband standard – Recommendation ITU-T G.9701 and supporting G.9700 – enables access speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s over existing telephone wires, answering service providers’ need for a complement to FTTH technologies in scenarios where G.fast proves the more cost-efficient strategy.
Within the Broadband Forum’s Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) architecture – taking fibre very close to the home – G.fast provides fibre-like speeds matched with the customer self-installation of DSL, resulting in cost-savings for service providers and improved customer experience.
AT&T and BT look to enhance Internet speeds with G.fast
United Kingdom operator BT is now expanding its field trials of G.fast. “I’m determined to roll out ultrafast broadband, and G.fast technology is the best way to deliver that to the majority of the UK as quickly as possible,” said Clive Selley, CEO of BT’s network division Openreach last month.
In the United States, telecom giant AT&T also sees G.fast as a big opportunity to utilize its existing copper infrastructure. Earlier this month, AT&T lab trials showed capability to bring up to 300Mbps to multi-dwelling units (MDUs) using G.fast. “The big opportunity for G.fast is in the MDU space,” said Bill Smith, President of AT&T Technology Operations.
G.fast is “relatively new and everyone is very interested in it right now,” said Eddy Barker, Assistant VP of Technical Design & Architecture for AT&T at the GigaCities Conference 2016. Mr Barker highlighted how G.fast will complement their FTTH strategy, saying that the technology will allow them to “fall back on what is already in place, so it is a win-win.”
Global G.fast deployment
Here’s a sampling of other carriers around the world who have been testing G.fast within the past year:
- Swiss operator Swisscom tested its G.fast service in the small village of Bibern in April 2015, and has since extended these tests to a small portion of households throughout the country, offering speeds of up to 500Mbps. Swisscom is currently scaling-up its G.fast deployment.
- Alcatel-lucent and BT began an extensive consumer G.fast trial in the North-East of England in 2015.
- Australia’s NBN successfully completed its first trial of G.fast technology in 2015. The trial conducted in Carldo, Melbourne, achieved speeds of over 600 Mbps over 100 meters of existing copper wire. Service providers are due to begin G.fast trials during 2016, with commercial launch anticipated in 2017.
- Norwegian operator Homenet ran a G.fast pilot in Oslo in 2015 with a commercial launch planned for later this year, according to local reports.
*G.fast was developed by Study Group 15, the ITU standardization expert group responsible for ‘Transport, Access and Home’. To learn more about the international standards developed by the group, see “Study Group 15 at a glance.”