& cplSiteName &

G.fast Could Use a Boost

Iain Morris
10/13/2016
50%
50%

G.fast is under pressure to deliver. The copper-fortifying broadband technology, which many had expected to see in commercial deployment this year, is still at trial stage in several European markets as 2017 draws closer. Forthcoming "second-generation" chips and standards have been heralded as G.fast game-changers, but few European operators have announced big commitments to G.fast in the meantime. And in a troubling development for the G.fast community, European regulators are now said to harbor serious reservations about G.fast's ability to meet regional targets for high-speed broadband connectivity.

Among Europe's biggest fixed-line operators, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has quickly emerged as the main G.fast cheerleader. Using the technology, the UK operator aims to provide 300Mbit/s services to about 10 million UK premises by 2020. Having carried out G.fast trials this year, BT is now set to cover about 140,000 homes and businesses with the technology by March 2017. Others will be watching closely to see if it measures up. (See Long-Range, High-Speed Gfast Is Coming BT)

Turning Copper Into Gold
Proponents of G.fast technology believe it can give fiber a run for its money.
Proponents of G.fast technology believe it can give fiber a run for its money.

The ambitious scheme would not have been possible had G.fast not already taken giant strides. The technology essentially works by extending the frequency range over which broadband signals travel. When it first appeared several years ago, it was designed to increase speeds over very short copper loops between homes and nearby distribution points, losing potency over longer distances. That meant rolling fiber out to those distribution points and equipping them with the necessary electronics. For an operator wanting a nationwide solution, it looked prohibitively expensive. (See G.fast: The Dawn of Gigabit Copper?.)


Want to know more about G.fast? Head to the Broadband World Forum
on October 18-20 in London.


Thanks to progress since then, BT is now confident that G.fast can be effective over much longer distances than was originally thought possible. Instead of introducing the technology at distribution points, BT plans to install it at street cabinets, usually around 300-350 meters from customer premises. Because BT maintains as many as 4 million distribution points, but just 90,000 street cabinets, the economics of a cabinet-based deployment clearly make sense.

The G.fast workout
To realize its vision, however, BT needs G.fast to hit the technology treadmill and become even fitter. Encouragingly, the G.fast industry is currently in the midst of epic workout that will "vastly change what G.fast looks like in the next 12 months," according to Eric Joyce, a systems engineer at broadband vendor Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), which has been heavily involved in BT's G.fast trials.

Even before an "Amendment 2" became fully standardized this year, the industry had started experimenting with a reduction in what is known as the SNR (for signal to noise ratio) margin to boost performance. With G.fast, the original recommendation was for an SNR margin of 6dB to provide a sufficient "buffer" against unwanted noise, as Joyce describes it. That margin has turned out to be surprisingly robust, though. By reducing the SNR margin to 3dB, and removing some of that buffer, Adtran has seen bandwidth improvements of between 50 Mbit/s and 100 Mbit/s, depending on loop length, with "negligible impact on stability."

Next page: Second generation

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
madness
50%
50%
madness,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/19/2016 | 5:03:14 AM
Would it be viable though
Even in South Africa Telkom is phasing out ADSL and VDSL in favour of fibre with packages up to 1Gbps. With the UK being 5 times smaller than SA, wouldn't it be more cost-effective and future-proof to lay fibre instead of doing an interim G.fast upgrade?
Ray@LR
100%
0%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
10/13/2016 | 12:37:25 PM
Re: What speeds?
that's a great discussion for Broadband World Forum...
iainmorris
50%
50%
iainmorris,
User Rank: Blogger
10/13/2016 | 10:30:39 AM
What speeds?
A big question is obviously how much bandwidth G.fast will deliver in commercial settings. The 300Mbit/s figure bandied about by BT sounds terrific, and more than enough for years to come, but is it at all realistic? If the actual connection speeds are somewhat lower then G.fast starts to look far less attractive as a "future-proof" option.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 16, 2017, ExCel Centre, London
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Muni Policies Stymie Edge Computing
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/17/2017
Is US Lurching Back to Monopoly Status?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Pai's FCC Raises Alarms at Competitive Carriers
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
'Brutal' Automation & the Looming Workforce Cull
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/18/2017
Worried About Bandwidth for 4K? Here Comes 8K!
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 10/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Selfie Game Strong Click Here
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives