BT Expands G.fast Pilot Plans

BT's access network division, Openreach, is extending its G.fast pilot scheme to two new locations where it will trial the next generation copper broadband technology.

The new G.fast pilots in the UK towns of Cherry Hinton and Gillingham will cover 25,000 homes and businesses between them, with BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) saying that broadband speeds of up to 330 Mbit/s will be on offer from technology housed in street cabinets.

G.fast can significantly boost broadband speeds over short distances, particularly at line lengths shorter than 100m, but BT and other operators that are shying away from heavy, nationwide investments in FTTH access networks, are hoping it can deliver very high-speed services over copper lines running from existing street cabinets hundreds of meters away from customers: These pilots appear to be a field test of such capabilities. (See Long-Range, High-Speed Gfast Is Coming – BT.)

The new Openreach pilots, due to start "soon," follow on from Openreach's existing G.fast trials covering 4,000 homes and businesses in the UK towns of Huntingdon and Gosforth, where Openreach has reported trial broadband speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s over copper connections hooked up to technology housed at distribution points close to customer locations. (See BT Gets G.fast Confidence Boost From Trials.)

"I'm determined to roll out ultrafast broadband, and G.fast technology is the best way to deliver that to the majority of the UK as quickly as possible," stated Clive Selley, who recently took over as CEO at Openreach, in an official statement. (See BT Puts G.fast at Heart of Ultra-Fast Broadband Plans and BT Names Clive Selley as New Openreach CEO.)

BT also wants to be able to counter the competitive threat of UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), which has invested in DOCSIS 3.0 technology to offer commercial residential broadband services of 200 Mbit/s and, soon, 300 Mbit/s. (See Eurobites: Virgin Sticks 300 Mbit/s Up to BT.)

Openreach is also set to trial a new fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband service, in the city of Bradford, targeted at business users and offering speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s. The aim of the trial is to see whether BT can develop a FTTP broadband service for small and medium-sized businesses with "strong service guarantees."

For more on G.fast, see:

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jbtombes 3/11/2016 | 9:39:02 AM
how fast? I thought field trials clocked G.fast at 1 Gbps- but maybe that's under optimum conditions. So 330 Mbps is a big enough boost in these markets, with possiblity of ramping up?
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