The next generation of FTTC (VDSL2) technology, which is better known as G.Fast and could one day deliver peak internet speeds of up to 1000Mbps (Megabits), has passed its first stage of approval on the road to becoming an official ITU standard in early 2014.
The current generation of 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which is being rolled out by BT, is expected to largely replace or compliment standard ADSL / ADSL2+ connections as the dominant form of UK broadband connectivity over the next few years.
FTTC works by running a fibre optic cable from the nearest telephone exchange, which is then taken to your local street cabinet. After that homes and businesses are connected by using VDSL2 technology over the “last mile” run of existing copper cable.
G.Fast is often seen as the next generation of FTTC, which could push speeds of up to 1Gbps into homes. But this would only help those living either very close to their street cabinet (i.e. up to a distance of around 250 meters) or to a fibre optic distribution point (FTTdp). The recent Alcatel-Lucent trials give a rough indication of what it could do (here).
But G.Fast first has to become an official standard. The ITU today reports that G.Fast has passed through the first stage of this process after gaining approval for a recommendation (ITU-T G.9700) that specifies methods to “minimize the risk of G.fast equipment interfering with broadcast services such as FM radio“.
Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, said:
“Since the early days of the World Wide Web, people around the world have accessed the vast resource that has become the Internet via ITU standards. I applaud our membership for continuing to show great leadership in the development of these specifications that bring broadband into our homes at ever increasing speeds and at ever greater efficiencies.”
Tom Starr, Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 15 (Working Party 1), added:
“G.fast is an important standard for service providers globally. [ISPs] will be able to deliver fibre-like performance more quickly and more affordably than with any other approach.”
Interestingly the ITU states that G.Fast will also enable self-installation by consumers without a technician’s assistance, which is already something that BTOpenreach will shortly begin to offer alongside standard FTTC broadband connections; albeit with some expectation of performance loss due to the use of special filters as opposed to an engineer install.
It’s hoped that the new standard will gain full ITU approval during early 2014 and it will then need to be tested and trialled by all of the usual suspects (e.g. BT are already experimenting with it in their labs). However G.Fast would be both expensive and complicated to roll-out, which means that we’re unlikely to see related products for a fair few years yet. Vectoring will come first to help reduce crosstalk (interference) and improve existing speeds.
The following is a recent ITU video in which the new standard is discussed.