LONDON -- Ultra-Broadband Forum -- BT is to open a new ultrafast broadband lab at its research facility at Adastral Park, UK, following successful trials of G.fast technology during which the fixed-line incumbent recorded download speeds of 800 Mbit/s.
The operator said it was "greatly encouraged" by the results, having previously assumed it would have to build fiber out to customer premises to support such high-speed services.
G.fast works by extending the range of frequencies over which broadband signals travel and is typically used when fiber has been deployed as far as a distribution point close to the home or business -- so-called FTTdp.
Indeed, BT's 800Mbps trial was carried out over a distance of just 19 meters, with the connection speed dropping to 700Mbit/s over a longer loop of 66 meters.
Even so, the operator's positive assessment of G.fast could have major implications for its broadband program.
BT's fiber network already passes some 20 million UK premises, but the FTTC technology that supports the majority of connections tops out at 80 Mbit/s and FTTP remains "considerably more expensive to deploy."
Rolling out G.fast could be a relatively low-cost alternative, requiring far less civil-engineering work while giving a significant boost to connection speeds.
According to Sckipio, an Israeli semiconductor company focused on G.fast development, the cost per home of using G.fast over "the last 200 meters" would be just $300, where that of FTTP works out at $1,500.
Discussing BT's plans at this week's Ultra-Broadband Forum in London -- in advance of the operator's official announcement -- Tim Whitley, managing director of research and innovation at BT, said the 800 Mbit/s G.fast trial had also involved the use of vectoring, which reduces interference between copper lines to further improve performance.
The operator also managed to record upload speeds of more than 200 Mbit/s over a distance of 66 meters during the G.fast trial.
"The new lab will take a range of equipment from a range of vendors and look into the practicalities of deploying G.fast in the real-world setting of the UK," Whitley told attendees.
BT has named Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei as the G.fast vendors whose equipment it will trial at the new Adastral Park lab.
But it sounds frustrated that G.fast equipment is still immature, with the ITU yet to ratify the G.fast standard.
That is currently expected to happen in December this year, with BT claiming to have played a "proactive role" in this area, "submitting over 100 contributions to the ITU-T G.fast work item."
A number of other major European operators also have G.fast in their sights, including Telekom Austria, which last year claimed to have recorded speeds of 800 Mbit/s over loop lengths of 100 meters, and Swisscom, which is collaborating with Huawei on the technology.
Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, meanwhile, was reported in February to be planning its own G.fast trials later this year.
— Iain Morris, Site Editor, Ultra-Broadband