The first certified G.fast products are due to hit the market in the next few months, but in the meantime there's more work required just to ensure that different G.fast products can all work together in the same network. That work includes an imminent plugfest designed to verify some of the nitty-gritty details of interoperability among different G.fast chipset implementations.
The plugfest is being conducted under the auspices of the Broadband ForumBroadband Forum the week of January 23 through 27. The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory's G.fast Consortium, which is centered on University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (IOL)'s testbed, will host.
Different pieces of equipment based on the different chipsets have been demonstrated to be able to communicate with each other, but there are a number of G.fast features that have to be implemented similarly, so that G.fast can be confidently mixed-and-matched when installed in commercial G.fast deployments.
One example, said Lincoln LaVoie, senior engineer at UNH-IOL, is fast rate adaption. FRA enables rapid reconfiguration of data rates in response to abrupt changes in channel or to compensate for the introduction of noise.
If the various chipset vendors have interpretations of FRA, or implementations of FRA, that vary significantly from each other, that could lead to unexpected difficulties in a G.fast network that uses equipment from multiple vendors.
The plugfests are not only helping the vendors all get on the same page, they're helping UNH-IOL prepare for its certification duties. The certification process was scheduled to start at the beginning of this year. LaVoie said no products have been officially certified yet, but the official process should begin shortly. Everything about the certification process will be confidential -- including the identities of the participants -- until actual certifications are announced, he said.
The list of participants in the upcoming plugfest includes the G.fast chipset vendors Sckipio Technologies, Broadcom Corp., Triductor Technology and Ubilinx. Intel Corp. has also signed up; it is an investor in, and partner with, Sckipio.
Ubilinx is Realtek Semiconductor Inc. , a Taiwanese semiconductor company that has participated in previous plugfests with its G.fast chipsets. Triductor, headquartered in China, is an IC design house that has supplied VDSL chips and other communications devices mostly to OEMs in its home market.
System integrators include Adtran Inc., Calix Networks Inc. and Nokia Corp. Nokia and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. were both contracted by BT's Openreach unit to help start rolling out G.fast service in England. Calix is working with CenturyLink Inc. and Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN), among others. Adtran meanwhile says it has been involved in scores of trials. (See Huawei, Nokia Land Initial G.fast Deals at BT's Openreach, CenturyLink Plants G.fast Flag With Calix and Bezeq Trials Adtran's G.fast Tech.)
Key to the success of the plugfest will be the companies providing the various test & measurement gear. They include Exfo, Greenlee Communications and Viavi. (See Viavi's OneExpert Supports Openreach on G.fast Pilot.)
Many of the companies that signed up for this plugfest also participated in an interoperability demo at the Broadband World Forum in London late last year. (See Interop Demo Pushes G.fast Forward.)
Companies with ongoing participation in the series of plugfests that won't be at this particular event include chipset vendor Metanoia and test companies Telebyte and Digital Lightwave (VeEX).
Keith Kelley, SVP and GM of telco and satellite CPE at Arris, told Light Reading in an email exchange: "We are looking forward to collaborating with companies throughout the networking industry to make G.fast interoperable across various equipment, which is a vital step in making G.fast technology truly mainstream. In participating in UNH-IOL's plugfest, we are investing in providing our customers with high-speed, high-quality connections, regardless of the vendor on the other end of the wire."
Chris Dunford, product manager of the access division at Exfo, provided Light Reading with the following comment: "As the World's first handheld G.fast test set vendor, Exfo strongly supports the initiative and opportunity put forth by the Broadband Forum's G.fast Chipset & System Integrator Interoperability Plugfest at the University of New Hampshire's Interoperability Lab (UNH-IOL). It's events like the G.fast Plugfest that propel the G.fast technology towards the goal of a globally ubiquitous technology. The event proves a collective commitment towards interoperability from the industry with a goal that benefits operators and most importantly end subscribers who continually demand ultra bandwidth services delivered to their premises."
— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading
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