Today, superfast broadband is no longer seen as a luxury, but more of a necessity. With an increasing number of devices in the home, alongside data heavy services such as video streaming and online backup services, superfast broadband is now a must.
It is also becoming increasingly important to businesses, whatever the size, where broadband can improve employee efficiency, enable flexible working from home, save costs and reduce corporate carbon footprints.
So if superfast broadband is so fundamental, why isn’t it everywhere?
The problem with fibre…
Fibre to the Home (FTTH) is the technology of choice when it comes to delivering superfast broadband. However, one of the main hurdles for FTTH is the cabling of the last few meters from the local telephone exchange to the subscriber’s home. Bringing fibre all the way to every single home can be too cumbersome, disruptive and costly. Of course, wireless technologies can be used as an alternative, but they struggle to deliver the speeds achieved with FTTH.
However, there is a new kid on the block that may just be able to tackle some of the problems of Fibre…
Introducing G. Fast technology
The new technology, called G.Fast makes better use of existing fibre and copper infrastructure to cable the very last part of the path, directly from a residential telecoms cabinet to the home. The evolution of this so-called “copper-extending technology” started with VDSL2 (with or without vectoring) evolving into G. Fast (with or without vectoring). G.Fast is now capable of delivering more than 1 Gbps over a limited distance of approximately 100 meters.
In that light, a new architectural definition has appeared in the market: “Fibre-To-The-distribution point” or FTTdp, distribution point being the residential telecoms cabinet where the transition between fibre and copper appears.
With FTTdp, the fibre is closer to the premises than with FTTH, meaning the copper link is much shorter. G.FAST technology maximises data capacity over the copper, and uses much higher frequencies, plus advanced ‘crosstalk’ cancellation techniques, to make ultrafast speeds possible.
A cost effective alternative to FTTH
FTTdp is potentially a more cost effective and simpler solution than both FTTP and dedicated business lines such as Ethernet. This is because less fibre and civil engineering is required. It also has the potential to be less disruptive for the customer with the potential of being a “self-install” product with no need for home engineering visits.
Coming to a home near you in 2016
Chunghwa Telecom will become the world’s first operator to commercially deploy G.fast, expected to roll out in Taiwan late 2015 / early 2016. In the UK, BT connected the first customers in a trial of the 330Mbps “G.fast” ultrafast broadband technology in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire in August. BT believes that G.fast will enable it to make speeds of a few hundred megabits per second available to millions of homes by 2020.
Will G. Fast deliver on promises?
Deploying G.fast is attractive to operators because the addressable market is sizeable, and this new network configuration enables them to cost-effectively increase speed without requiring FTTH. With the potential of being a ‘self-install’ product, it should also deliver the much needed high financial margins for operators.
However it is essential that operators deliver on the speeds promised to keep customers. Therefore they must continually monitor the performance of G. Fast during trials and once live. Automatic alerting on any performance degradation is essential to ensure a certain level of performance is delivered to G. Fast customers. If this is achieved, then G. Fast is one of the most promising technologies to hit the superfast broadband market for many years.