The work that BT has done in its lab with emerging fixed broadband technology G.fast is a "game-changer," according to Colin Bannon, the CTO of BT Wholesale.
Talking to Light Reading ahead of his keynote presentation at the Big Telecom Event (BTE, June 9-10 in Chicago), which will focus on the potential of G.fast for network operators, Bannon noted that BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has a number of significant "lab-led" developments in the works that are changing perceptions about network architectures. (See A Guide to G.fast, BT Backs G.fast for Backhaul and BT Puts G.fast at Heart of Ultra-Fast Broadband Plans.)
"There was a 'wow moment' regarding the performance and distance" that G.fast could achieve in terms of delivering high-speed broadband services over copper tail connections, said Bannon, who will provide some insights into what BT has been doing in its labs during his presentation.
Initially, G.fast was regarded as a technology that could deliver broadband speeds of hundreds of megabits per second, possible even a gigabit, over distances of less than 100 meters where fiber was extended to distribution points close to homes and offices and copper used for the final connection.
Now, though, BT along with other operators such as Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) have conducted trials that show G.fast could deliver broadband speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s over greater distances of a few hundred meters and possibly even further, making it suitable for street cabinet deployments. (See G.fast: Turning Copper Into Gold.)
That opens up the opportunity for network operators such as BT to plan the evolution of their high-speed broadband services across a number of applications (residential, enterprise, backhaul) without necessarily having to take fiber all the way to customers, which would cost billions for a telco such as BT. The British telco has about 90,000 street cabinets that are already fitted out for broadband service delivery -- upgrading them to G.fast, where possible, would be much more capital-efficient than investing in fiber-to-the-home.
"The economic model is a game-changer for us," noted Bannon. "G.fast will enable BT to offer better, faster services sooner."
Bannon also noted that being able to offer very high-speed broadband services over copper will open up a lot more options around virtualized network functions (VNFs) and the ability to meet the latency requirements of cloud applications. "There are lots of questions around virtual CPE and how they will be hosted and managed," he stated.
Bannon is giving his keynote speech on Day 1 of the Big Telecom Event (BTE), on June 9 at 11.20 a.m. in the Lakeside center at McCormick Place, Chicago.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading