Openreach pilot G.fast broadband technology
This month, BT’s Openreach division began a pilot to roll out ‘up to’ 330Mbps capable G.fast broadband technology to up to 138,000 homes and businesses in 17 places across the United Kingdom by March 2017.
Openreach’s plan is to begin a full-scale commercial deployment towards the latter half of 2017, aiming to reach 10 million premises by 2020 and the majority of the UK by 2025.
The pilot is intended to test the performance of G.fast technology. This pioneering technology developed by Openreach works in a similar way to the current VDSL2 based on the ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service. A fibre optic cable is run to a local Street Cabinet and the remaining copper run to homes using VDSL2 to deliver the service.
Unlike VDSL2, G.fast requires significantly more spectrum (106-212MHz versus 17-30MHz for VDSL). This means G.fast can deliver its best speeds over much shorter copper lines (less than 350 metres for 300Mbps+).
What can customers involved in the pilot expect?
Customers will be offered a package of either 160Mbps (30Mbps upload) or 330Mbps (50Mbps upload) at a special rate for the duration of the pilot.
Some areas are already part of a previous G.fast trial and will continue with this current pilot. G.fast Pilot locations include:
- Bolton, Greater Manchester
- Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire
- Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
- Derby, Derbyshire
- Donaldson, South East Scotland
- Gillingham, Kent
- Langside, Glasgow
- Donaldson, Edinburgh
- Gosforth, Tyne & Wear
- Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
- Luton, Bedfordshire
- Rusholme, Manchester
- St. Austell, Cornwall
- Swansea, Wales
- Swindon, Wiltshire
- London: Balham / Upton Park, London
Early subscribers can expect to receive a dedicated G.fast modem, however an engineer will be required to install it in the property.
The main downside of G.fast is that the speed falls away much more sharply than existing technologies over distance (i.e. longer copper lines), which means users will need to live within 200-300 metres of their local G.fast pod in order to get the best speeds. However, Openreach are continuing to work on future improvements and the challenge for them is whether this service will tempt customers away from existing FTTC/VDSL2 packages.
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