Openreach (BT) and Huawei have today claimed to be the “first companies in Europe” to trial three new ultrafast fibre optic broadband technologies, including 40Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable NG-PON2, 10Gbps XGS-PON and 2.5Gbps GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) over a single fibre.
Readers of ISPreview.co.uk may be familiar with these as we covered the International Telecommunication Union‘s (ITU) consent for the new Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP/H) style NG-PON2 (ITU-T G.989.2 Amendment 1) and XGS-PON (ITU-T G.9807.1) broadband standards back in March 2016 (here).
At present a typical GPON style FTTP broadband connection on BTOpenreach’s network can only deliver Internet download speeds of up to 330Mbps (rising to 1Gbps in the very near future), with a single fibre transmitting 2.5Gbps of capacity, which is then shared between customers.
However the new trial, which involved a pure FTTP fibre optic line running between the University of Suffolk (Ipswich Exchange) and BT’s R&D centre at Adastral Park (we aren’t told the exact distance of the line itself), managed to push 40Gbps (40,000Mbps if you prefer), 10Gbps and 2.5Gbps speeds “delivered simultaneously over a single fibre optic cable“.
Crucially the technologies each use separate wavelengths, “meaning that all three can operate seamlessly on the same fibre network” (co-existence). “This demonstrates not only how operators can flex to meet ultrafast speeds in the future, but also the latent capability of network that Openreach has already deployed“, said the network operator.
Clive Selley, Openreach CEO, said:
“Superfast speeds are now available to 9 out of 10 homes and businesses and we’re taking fibre further. We’re also excited to be bringing the country ultrafast speeds.
We’ll be taking ultrafast to up to 12 million UK premises by the end of 2020, and to the majority by 2025. But it’s also vital that we continue to look even further into the future, and prepare for increasing data consumption over our network. That’s what this trial is all about.
The trial proves that not only is our FTTP network fit for the future, but with the right equipment in the customer’s home and at the exchange, we can tailor speeds to suit their individual requirements. So whether you’re a small business specialising in graphic design or a keen gamer using UHD and virtual reality, we’ll make sure your communications provider can offer you the speeds and value for money services that you need.
I’m looking forward to discussing this technology breakthrough further with our communications providers to see how it could help shape their future plans.”
Jeff Wang, President of Huawei Access Network, said:
“Huawei has been running an Innovation program with Openreach for many years and we are looking forward to continuing the partner relationship for the future. Huawei’s investment and innovation in both fibre and copper based technologies will help Openreach to deploy the ultrafast broadband to serve the UK public for many years to come and help achieve Openreach ambitions of passing 10 million homes with G.fast and up to a further 2 million homes with FTTP by 2020.”
Apparently the University of Suffolk has been using the service for the past two weeks and during the next phase of testing they’ll harness the high bandwidth for streaming lectures, designing games, and delivering online courses etc.
As nice as this all is, it should be remembered that at present Openreach only plans to roll-out their FTTP network to 2 million UK homes and businesses by 2020, while Virgin Media intend to do around 1 million by 2019 and altnets could also achieve something similar if they really press forward with their respective plans.
However most of the UK market will still be stuck on significantly slower hybrid-fibre (FTTC, G.fast etc.) style solutions for many years to come. In any case many ISPs today would struggle to afford the capacity needed to feed this new generation of fibre optic technology and give it to consumer connections, but then affordable home 10Gbps and 40Gbps lines are still a long way off.
Similarly it’s one thing to build an ultra-mega-super-duper-fast broadband network and another to ensure that all of the Internet servers and services or online content are able to take full advantage of it. Right now it’s hard enough to take full advantage of 300Mbps connection and many people would be more than happy if they could even get remotely close to that.
It’s worth pointing out that the ITU are separately working on the possibility of delivering 25Gbps per wavelength over PON, with the aim of enhancing the capacity to beyond 100Gbps in the future. But that’s another story for the future. At least there’s plenty of room in those optical cables for more data, now we just have to get more of them into the ground.