On cue, the ITU has given its final approval to the standard for G.fast, the emerging technology for fixed broadband access that could deliver super-fast downstream speeds over existing copper lines. (See G.fast Standard Gets Final Approval.)
G.fast -- or ITU-T G.9701, to give it its sexy name -- is already well understood by telcos, especially those that have been trialing and deploying VDSL vectoring technology that can boost broadband speeds to 100 Mbit/s in fiber-to-the-cabinet/curb (FTTC) deployments.
G.fast goes to the next level in terms of speed, but requires operators to extend their fiber plant closer to customers (to so-called distribution points) that are within 100 meters or so of houses and offices.
Using G.fast in fiber-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp) architectures could, in theory, enable telcos to offer broadband services with speeds of up to 700 Mbit/s (combined downstream and upstream) over copper lengths of 50 meters.
That's the kind of speed that can help them deliver high-quality services, compete with the cable operators that are deploying DOCSIS 3.0 technology to good effect -- and all at a capex cost that should come in at a fraction of a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout. (See G.fast: The Dawn of Gigabit Copper?)
The opportunity is intriguing, though there's no guarantee, of course, that G.fast will be a big hit with operators. (See G.fast: Niche or Not?)
But hopes are high in the vendor community. At the chip level, there is a rising competitive tension between the likes of Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Ikanos Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: IKAN) and startup Sckipio Technologies , with the latter teaming up with Lantiq Semiconductor to develop designs for residential gateways. (See Lantiq Intros G.fast Residential Gateway Reference Design and Sckipio Turns Up the G.fast Volume.)
At the system level, the key players pitching to operators are Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , as we noted at the recent Broadband World Forum. (See Broadband Battles.)
It's going to be a while yet before there's any talk of commercial deployments -- some trials might start in the first half of 2015 -- but with the standard ratified and operators looking for ways to lock down their broadband customers with services that can support multiple simultaneous services, including high-definition video streams, there's certainly going to be plenty of interest in what G.fast can offer.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading