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August 25, 2015

G.Fast deployed in Cambridgeshire as BT trials ultrafast broadband

Service delivers up to 330 Mbps speeds.

By Alexander Sword

BT has begun trials of G.fast ultrafast broadband in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The Openreach trial will reach two thousand homes and businesses in coming weeks. BT claims it delivers speeds of up to 330 Mbps, which is over ten times the current UK average.

The six to nine month trial is open to all communication providers.

Extending the range of frequencies available through existing copper networks, G.fast provides ‘ultrafast’ broadband speeds, defined as speeds of 100Mbps or over.

The advantage is that fibre does not need to be rolled out to the home to provide higher connectivity speeds.

However, while BT hopes the technology will be able to deliver up to 500 Mbps speeds to most of the UK within a decade, Google Fiber in the US and Hyperoptic in the UK are already able to provide 1 Gbps connectivity through fibre connections.

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Collaborating with industry partners such as Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and ADTRAN, BT has been researching the technology since 2007.

In real networks I think G.Fast is going to be "an up to 1 Gbps" technology at best," commented Ian Keene, VP at Gartner. "In practice this ‘1 Gbps’ is the aggregation of uplink and downlink and in reality might be more like 500-700 Mbps.

"Loop lengths considered have been 100 meters or less but this is a new market and the equipment vendors may improve on these speeds or distances.

"BT like many Western European telcos, have in general a good quality copper network. The alternative for high bandwidth to compete with Virgin is FTTH.

"But the installation cost of getting fiber through that last 100 metres or so to the subscriber is huge and not only that, it takes a long time to convert a significant proportion of subscribers so getting new services to market quickly is not possible."

Dana Tobak, MD, Hyperoptic said: "Its good to see other companies starting to roll out ultrafast broadband, as the UK still lags behind many countries in Europe for broadband speeds.

"However it’s important to note that even with the added investment into G.Fast technology, the combined upload and download speed is 1Gb – with Fibre-to-the-Premises residents and businesses can enjoy symmetrical 1Gb broadband speeds.

"We believe its time to remove the copper cables as it is the cause of many of the speed and capacity issues in the network today – true fibre connectivity is the superior approach that will support the UK’s economic growth now and the longterm."

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: "The UK already leads Europe when it comes to superfast broadband coverage and speeds, with around 40,000 more homes and businesses getting access every week thanks to the government rollout.

"We want to stay ahead of the competition and so it’s good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry. BT is harnessing its world-class technology and engineering expertise to help the UK lead the way on ultrafast broadband and remain a world leading digital economy."

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