As expected BT has today confirmed that their second major trial of future G.fast broadband technology (ITU G.9701), which will initially offer speeds of up to 330Mbps (50Mbps upload) before rising to 500Mbps over the next decade, has begun in Gosforth (Newcastle, North England).
The first large-scale 6-9 month trial (approx. 2,000 premises passed) began in Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) during late August (here) and a promising progress update on that was released a month later (here). By comparison the Gosforth trial is roughly the same size and will also test different deployment approaches, just like the one in Huntingdon.
By now most of you should know how G.fast works, but if not then here’s the usual recap. Essentially the technology functions in a roughly similar way to the current 80Mbps capable hybrid-fibre VDSL2 (FTTC) service that dominates the market (this often marketed as “fibre broadband“), although it requires significantly more spectrum (G.fast 106MHz+ vs VDSL 17MHz) and thus operates best over a much shorter run of copper cable (ideally less than 350 metres).
G.fast can also be installed inside street cabinets, just like VDSL2, although the technology may similarly be delivered from smaller nodes / distribution points that can be built either underground (manholes) or placed on top of nearby telegraph poles. Related nodes would be fed directly by fibre optic cable, although they still have to be powered by small nearby power supply units at ground level.
Bob Paton, CEO of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“The news that Gosforth was chosen to trial this cutting edge technology was very welcome and it’s fantastic that local people are now beginning to reap the benefits. This technology will undoubtedly benefit our region and it’s great that the North East is playing such a key role in what will be a UK-wide roll-out of ultrafast broadband.”
Joe Garner, CEO of Openreach, said:
“As we explained in our recently launched Charter, we are determined to continue to improve the UK’s leading position on broadband. That’s why we are very excited to have begun the second G.Fast trial which is another step in building Britain’s connected future.”
Otherwise there’s not a lot new to tell, the Gosforth trial has been promised for a while and a much smaller (3rd) “technical trial” is also expected to take place in Swansea (Wales). Hopefully some of the future G.fast trial lines will test longer copper distances than the ones that initially went live in Huntingdon, where most of the customers are said to be “fairly close” to the DP.
Under the current plan BTOpenreach looks set to launch a major UK pilot of G.fast in 2016 and the official commercial roll-out currently seems to be targeted to begin in 2017. BT’s plan is to make the service available to 10 million premises by 2020 (roughly 40% of the UK), although the full speed of 500Mbps will take a little longer than that to introduce.