Looking for an alternative to expensive all-fiber deployments, CenturyLink has settled on G.fast technology to deliver faster Internet and IP video service to hundreds of apartments in Platteville, Wis. The telco claims it is the largest G.fast deployment in North America, reaching 44 multi-dwelling units (MDUs) and nearly 800 individual customers.
G.fast works in denser living environments because it takes advantage of short copper network loops. It hasn't taken off in the US the way it has in other parts of the world, but domestic telcos are increasingly exploring the use of the technology in the MDU market. Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN) announced a G.fast MDU deployment in Nebraska in July, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has gone on record saying it would like to target MDUs like townhouse complexes and apartment buildings with G.fast if further tests prove successful. (See AT&T Explores G.fast for MDUs.)
There is pressure on CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) not only to improve broadband speeds, but also to expand its Prism TV IP video service in order to stay competitive. The company says it started delivering fiber-to-the-home broadband and IP video service to customers in Platteville last year, but that MDUs were largely left out of the initial upgrade cycle. With G.fast, CenturyLink can now deliver Internet speeds up to 500 Mbit/s "and higher," as well as Prism TV.
CenturyLink says it's using Calix's AXOS G.fast solution in Platteville, which is managed through the vendor's cloud-based Compass Consumer Connect Plus software. That's a big win for Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX), which is competing against industry heavyweights like Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (outside the U.S.) and Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) for G.fast business.
Windstream also said this summer that it's using Calix technology for its G.fast rollout in Nebraska.
On a broader scale, G.fast technology is competing with other endpoint strategies being used by both cable and wireless carriers. In the cable world, operators are pushing fiber deeper into their networks and testing ways to speed up DOCSIS data delivery over coaxial cable beyond the fiber node. In the wireless industry, carriers are looking at small cells, specifically for better indoor coverage at the network edge, and will also use deep fiber combined with newer wireless technology as 5G development unfolds.
CenturyLink notes that G.fast is just one strategy it's pursuing to deliver faster Internet speeds over its existing infrastructure. The telco is also using VDSL2 vectoring to increase speeds up to 100 Mbit/s in some customer areas. (See CenturyLink Claims Largest G.fast Deployment in NA.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading