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BT Trials Huawei's G.fast for FTTx

Ray Le Maistre
10/21/2013
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BT is to trial cutting-edge broadband access technology from Huawei as it takes the next step on its journey to full fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).

The technology in question is G.fast, an emerging ITU standard technology (G.9700) that promises speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s over the copper connection to a broadband user's premises.

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) noted recently that it would be scoping out the potential of G.fast as part of its fiber-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp) plans: FTTdp is the next step on from FTTC, taking the physical fiber even closer to the end user but still utilizing the copper tails already in place.

The British incumbent outlined its fixed-broadband plans at the recent ECOC conference in London, noting that the next step on from its current widespread fiber-to-the-curb/cabinet (FTTC) rollout would be fiber-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp), which takes its physical fiber plant even closer to end users. (See BT Preps Its Next FTTx, Core Moves.)

Now BT is taking that technology into a field trial, a move that strengthens its ties with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , the dominant technology supplier to the UK operator's fixed broadband access network deployments. (See BT Trials Huawei's G.fast Tech.)

The trial is taking place close to BT's Adastral Park R&D center near Ipswich, UK, and involves the deployment of G.fast line cards in underground distribution points. Huawei notes that the theoretical speed of up to 1 Gbit/s downstream is possible over copper connections of up to 100 meters, but that G.fast is suitable for deployments where the final copper tail is up to 250 meters in length.

BT's access network is well suited to G.fast deployments, as the operator has about 4 million distribution points that are suitable for FTTdp rollouts.

The big questions, though, are not whether this technology works, but: whether BT will (or can) use it to take very high speed broadband to rural areas; how this technology can be made available on a wholesale/competitive basis to service providers other than BT Retail; and whether a successful deployment of FTTdp might mean that BT can delay even further (or altogether) any plans for the mass deployment of FTTH.

Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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cyberdoyle
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cyberdoyle,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/22/2013 | 4:20:49 PM
Re: The theory is great....
Agree DOShea, and the joy of keeping everyone paying for an old phone line connection cannot be underestimated - the telcos are determined to keep us tied to the copper until finally folk get wise to this scam. Pouring a few billion into preserving their obsolete assets is small fry when you think of the profits they are making on copper. The real scandal is that £1.2billion of that money is coming from the public. Money wasted propping up a business model that only favours a monopoly provider and throttles innovation. Digital britain? No it isn't.
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
10/21/2013 | 9:33:48 PM
Re: The theory is great....
I think you raise a lot of valid questions, all of which will be ignored by any company with a telco heritage that hears what it can still do with copper instead of taking fiber all the way home.
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
10/21/2013 | 7:29:04 AM
The theory is great....
In theory, this (G.fast + FTTdp) sounds like a much more efficient way to get very fast broadband to a lot of people.

But I wonder how many diustribution points can actually handle access gear? And how will that equipment be powered? As i understsnd it, it will use power from the end user's CPE...  a lot of operational rather than technical challenges, it seems.

And then there's the planning, regulation...

But, tis does sound very interesting!
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