The industry appears largely skeptical that much-touted G.fast technology will satisfy bandwidth requirements over the next five or six years, judging by the results of a recent poll of the Light Reading community.
In response to the question 'Can G.fast technology meet bandwidth demands between now and 2020?', less than a fifth of respondents opted for the answer 'Definitely -- connections of a few hundred Mbit/s or more will satisfy all usage scenarios over the foreseeable future.'
Although more than 60% of those voting agree that G.fast has a role to play, all of these respondents think operators may have to deploy more advanced technologies before 2020.
According to 31% of voters, operators in more advanced broadband markets should start investing in fiber immediately because G.fast will have a limited shelf life. The technology can, in any case, be seen as an interim step towards a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout -- it is only really effective over short distances and, therefore, where fiber has been deployed as far as the local distribution point and copper is retained for the last 100 or so meters to the customer premise. (See G.fast: The Dawn of Gigabit Copper?)
Another 33% of respondents -- representing slightly more than one half of the skeptics -- say it is competition from cable providers and other broadband rivals that will force operators to think beyond G.fast before 2020. The implication is that G.fast may cover all the capacity needs of broadband players but fail to match up to other technologies on connection speeds.
Competition from the cable community has clearly spurred broadband investments in several European markets. In Germany and the UK, for instance, fixed-line incumbents have overhauled their networks out of fear they would otherwise lose broadband customers to cable rivals touting faster connections. Although both Deutsche Telekom and BT have held off spending heavily on FTTH, the introduction of new superfast technologies by cable operators could break down their resistance.
Indeed, set to become a major force in Germany’s cable market through its takeover of Kabel Deutschland, Vodafone was recently reported to be on the verge of launching a 200Mbps service -- double what Deutsche Telekom claims it can provide using vectoring-enabled VDSL. Alternatives to FTTH (including G.fast) would allow Deutsche Telekom to compete with this. But if cable gets much faster, copper-based technologies may simply not be enough. (See Vectoring: Some Va-Va-Voom for VDSL.)
And as far as another 18% of respondents are concerned, operators should forget all about G.fast. With demand for new, bandwidth-hungry services likely to increase sharply over the next few years, the standard will quickly become obsolete. Better to avoid the stepping-stone and leap straight to the final all-fiber destination.
— Iain Morris, Site Editor, Ultra-Broadband