Tony Brown

By: Tony Brown

Tony Brown is Public Affairs Manager at nbn.

A new Ovum report commissioned by nbn and UK operator BT has forecast that nearly 30 million premises globally will be receiving ultra-fast broadband services via new copper acceleration technology G.fast by 2021.

Nearly 30 million premises around the world are expected to be connected to ultra-fast broadband via new copper acceleration technology G.fast by 2021, according to the new report Gigabit Networks from UK research firm Ovum, jointly commissioned by nbn and UK network operator BT.

BT is likely to be one of the first operators in the world to launch commercial G.fast services in 2017 and is expected to be followed by fellow European operators such as Swisscom and Telekom Austria soon after with German operators NetCologne and M.Net also close to commercial G.fast launches.

As a result, Ovum says that Europe is likely to lead the way for G.fast deployment, estimating that by 2021 around 11% of broadband services in Western Europe – defined by the report as everywhere west of and including Germany – may be delivered via G.fast, with plenty of room remaining for continued future growth.

“For carriers with copper twisted pair assets, G.fast is positioned to meet service requirements as a competitive alternative to gigabit capable fibre to the premises or cable networks,” the Gigabit Networks report says.

So what is G.fast? A quick summary 

G.fast is a new copper acceleration technology that delivers speeds of up to 1Gbps over existing twisted-pair copper of around 100 metres and can even deliver speeds of around 400Mbps over 300 metres of copper.

The higher speeds are achieved by extending the spectrum range from the 17MHz used by VDSL2 – which delivers 100Mbps – to 106MHz, enabling the 1Gbps speeds delivered by G.fast.

G.fast gaining global ground 

Although European operators are expected to lead the way on G.fast deployment, Gigabit Networks points out that there is strong global interest in G.fast deployment across the world.

US operators are now showing strong interest in deploying G.fast – particularly in Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs) rather than delivering Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP).

Operators find delivering a fibre connection into each apartment inside an MDU an expensive and complicated process – so being able to deliver ultra-fast speeds over existing copper lines is very attractive.

US operator AT&T has already flagged plans to conduct wide-scale trials of G.fast, with the aim of delivering total throughput of up to 600Mbps to MDUs.

Rival operator CenturyLink is even further advanced on its G.fast deployment having built out the largest trial of the technology in the US to date with 44 MDUs housing over 800 premises already connected to trial G.fast services.

Meanwhile, in Japan, one of the most advanced Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) and Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) countries in the global market, Energia Communications has also announced plans to launch G.fast services and is expected to launch in 2017.

nbn and G.fast

Pictured: An nbn™ FTTN node

nbn conducted its first G.fast trial in Melbourne last October and achieved total aggregate speeds of 600Mbps over 100 metres of twisted-pair copper inside an MDU, having previously achieved speeds of 970Mbps over 20 metres of copper on a lab trial in the nbn’s National Test Facility in Melbourne.

nbn is still planning further G.fast tests in the field involving Retail Service Providers to get a better understanding of how the technology will perform in a range of different circumstances in end-user premises.

Some concerns for Australian implementation in particular are how the technology performs in underground pits, where it can be cold, wet, and very hot, as well as up in the air on telegraph poles.

Moreover, nbn’s potential ability to launch G.fast services was further boosted recently by the announcement that nbn was committing to launching Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) technology to approximately 700,000 premises across the network.

FTTC sees fibre run all the way to the street outside a premise where it is connected to a Distribution Point Unit (DPU) that is turn connected to the existing copper pair servicing the premise to deliver broadband.

Although nbn is planning to launch our initial FTTC services – expected to launch in 2018 – with VDSL technology, it is widely acknowledged across the industry that FTTC will eventually provide the perfect platform to deliver both G.fast and XG.FAST services.

XG.FAST – Multi Gigabit ahead 

Although G.fast has the potential to deliver great broadband speeds for end-users – eventually up to Gigabit speeds in some cases – the really exciting breakthrough in copper acceleration is coming via XG.FAST, which nbn has conducted initial lab trials of with Nokia.

“Developed by Nokia Bell Labs, XG-FAST is targeting throughput of up to 10Gbps over very short bonded copper lines,” the Gigabit Networks report notes.

“The use cases for XG.FAST are focused on delivering into an FTTB setting – although it may also be used in FTTN builds where the copper run is short (via FTTC).

“This effectively positions XG.FAST as a fibre extension solution which avoids the cost, and often logistical challenges, of accessing the premises.”

nbn is only the third operator in the global market, behind BT and Deutsche Telekom, to trial XG.FAST technology and will announce the results of the lab trials with the technology shortly.

Tony Brown

By: Tony Brown

Tony Brown is Public Affairs Manager at nbn.
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