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Broadband Forum CEO Claims 800Mbps G.Fast Is Not Just Another DSL Tech

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 (8:49 am) - Score 1,441

The CEO of the Broadband Forum, Robin Mersh, has said that critics who claim the future G.fast (aka – FTTC2 / ITU G.9700) broadband technology is “just another DSL” solution are “way off the mark“. According to Mersh, G.fast is a “giant step away from DSL” that will deliver download speeds from “300 to 800 Mbps” via a fast and cost-effective deployment.

The G.fast standard (ITU G.9700) is currently going through its final approval process and many expect this to be completed by around Q3 2014 (here). Meanwhile BT has already confirmed the first Huawei-based trials of G.fast at its Adastral Park facility near Ipswich in Suffolk (here) and they’ve had it in the labs, touching 800Mbps+, for even longer.

The new technology is similar to BT’s existing up to 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service, which is currently being rolled out across the United Kingdom, although it’s designed to operate over much shorter copper lines (below 250 metres) and will utilise more radio spectrum (17 – 106MHz+) with improve noise cancellation (vectoring). Target speeds from 150Mbps and up to potentially approaching 800 – 1000Mbps are frequently talked about.

G.fast is often also envisaged as working alongside other solutions like Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) / Fibre to the Remote Node (FTTRN), which would help to reduce the “last mile” run of copper cable (i.e. between street cabinets and homes) by replacing more (but not all) of it with a fibre optic line. Not only do both methods boost normal FTTC speeds but they’d give a huge boost to G.fast, which loves short copper.

But critics of G.fast have complained that the upgrade is just another DSL solution that’s designed to delay the huge spend needed to deploy a full fibre optic infrastructure (e.g. Fibre-to-the-Home FTTH) and they claim it would still suffer from performance problems due to its reliance on some copper.

Concerns over G.fast’s “parasitical power” setup (i.e. it works without mains power by drawing a small amount of current from the customers router), as well as its own rollout cost and technically tricky deployment have also repeatedly been raised. But Mersh isn’t worried.

Robin Mersh said:

Those who think G.fast is just another DSL technology are way off the mark – G.fast is coming fast and it’s going to make an enormous difference for service providers and their customers. G.fast is a giant step away from DSL, borrowing the best from ADSL and VDSL to create a new generation of technology that is lower in power, more efficient, faster and easier to install.

Customer self-install environment was included in the design of G.fast from the beginning and will therefore bring significant cost savings. Alternative technologies, such as VDSL2, were not designed from the start for a customer self-install, it was always assumed that the technician would install it.”

Mersh was speaking ahead of today’s Fixed Access Networks Summit in Berlin (Germany), where everything from fibre optic to copper line based broadband and phone solutions will be discussed. The Broadband Forum believes that G.fast is the way forward and will become a major solution for helping ISPs to meet the European Union’s broadband penetration targets (i.e. 30Mbps+ for all by 2020 with 50% subscribed to a 100Mbps+ service).

Last month Israel-based modem maker Sckipio similarly predicted that pressure from rival cable and FTTH platforms would push telecoms operators, such as BT, to begin rolling out G.fast much sooner than expected (here); with some predicted to start their roll-outs as soon as 2015.

But the standard is not yet complete and in the UK other solutions, such as Vectoring (designed to reduce interference on FTTC/VDSL lines), would ideally need to be rolled out first before G.fast can be trialled outside of BT’s facility. Vectoring is currently still being tested in several areas but we’ve yet to hear of any concrete plans from BT for its national deployment.

Needless to say that 2015 seems too soon for the UK and, assuming all goes well, 2017 might be a more viable target but right now that’s just speculation. BT could still choose not to pursue G.fast, although based on their current plans we wouldn’t want to bet against it.

Leave a Comment
27 Responses
  1. Avatar bob says:

    With digital media quality along with size increasing all the time 2017 will probably fit right in with 4k and then 8k becoming more main stream.

    Virgin’s 150mb and even FTTC’s 79mb (if lucky enough to get that) are fine for the time being but it’s nice to know that we’ll be covered by faster speeds in the years to come.

  2. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

    Good to know the next step is being worked on. For a lot of people if FTTdp can deliver what it claims that is all they will likely need for years to come. Anything above that and most people likely haven’t got the storage capacity to even handle that amount of data. I’m getting 80/20 FTTC fitted next Wednesday and honestly that for me is going to be easily enough for a long while. I haven’t got any 4K screens and expect majority of people don’t still either. I see why BT as a company think FTTC is the better option just a shame most due to the technology won’t get 30Mbps+.

  3. Avatar George says:

    Robin Mersh, Chief Executive Officer, Broadband forum.
    He has worked in the telecommunications industry for over 18 years, starting at Cable & Wireless and then moving on to BT before meeting his wife and moving to the US in 1999.

    So another ex-BT employee bigging up BTs next fantasy.

  4. Avatar FibreFred says:

    “Those who think G.fast is just another DSL technology are way off the mark”

    But some on here hate the idea of it and I’ve seen one blog say its rubbish so… are you sure Robin 🙂

    Sorry Robin, copper is the panto villain

  5. Avatar Integral says:

    So should we believe international experts from AT&T, Ericsson, Cisco, Oracle etc. or characters on an internet blog?

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I think I’d side with these guys http://www.uppersideconferences.com/g-fast-summit2014/gfastsummit2014program_day_1.html rather than resident trolls.

    2. Avatar George says:

      Oh you have a new personality disorder how cute

    3. Avatar George says:

      Oh and your link…..

      10.00 BT: Report from a G.fast Trial Trevor Linney, BT

      so like i said BT and ex-BT employees bigging up BTs next fantasy

    4. Avatar Raindrops says:

      Interesting he wants to take their events for gospel even though in March they had one with talks about 4G and future mobile which he has previously said will never be a match for fixed line.

    5. Avatar George says:

      He will take anything he can and blow it out of context, that with his new 2 personality disorders that have popped up today is obvious.

  6. Avatar gerarda says:

    The only way Gfast is a solution to 30mpbs for all is for the stats to be fiddled like they were for ADSL and are attempting to be for FTTC. ie if Gfast is available somewhere between your home and the exchange then you are counted as having the service.

    1. Avatar Integral says:

      Nobody is claiming it is a solution for 30M for all.

    2. Avatar George says:

      So it is just another DSL technology if it can not do 30 Mbps for all, or what exactly is it? Another short term solution for short lines?

    3. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Maybe you should read what it is, or you could continue trolling I guess

    4. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

      G.Fast alone won’t garuntee that but with FTTdp included as well it would likely mean 60-80Mbps+ for all that would be possible if it is was a nationwide rollout. A lot of places will be on FTTC Lines in 2017 but won’t get those 30Mbps due to distance from cabinet this along with FTTdp would mean they would get those speeds. It is likely going to mean another infusion of tax payers money not saying that is right but it would go a long way towards the UK of meeting 100% on 30Mbps goal by 2020 EU has set.

    5. Avatar No clue says:

      So short version G.Fast is not the solution.

  7. Avatar colin says:

    Quick question:
    One FTTC cab feeds 100 houses with app distances of 100- 400 m.
    The same cab also feeds a DP supplying 15 houses app 2km away.

    Because of this distance would priority be given to this DP to have FTTDP ( G fast)

    If so,houses further away from the cab could end up with more bandwidth than those who live a few 100m’s for their FTTC.

    1. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

      G.Fast wouldn’t happen until the FTTdp as it would be a pure fibre connection until then.

    2. Avatar MikeW says:

      That is indeed the theory behind G.fast and FTTdp.

      But the 100 houses closer to the FTTC cab will also have their own DPs, that can also be upgraded to the same technology… so all houses would become possible targets for the higher bandwidth.

      But dependence on G.fast and FTTdp makes it a while before we’ll see it.

      In the meantime, we’ll see the same idea in theory, but without G.fast and using VDSL2 instead, in the form of FTTRN.

    3. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

      Out of curiosity could Fibre to Distribution Point also be a solution for people stuck on exchange only lines? Or does BT just need to sort those lines out with FTTP?

  8. Avatar COLIN says:


    When we think of DP’s we assume poles but with new housing developments all cabling
    is underground with direct wiring to the PCP.

    Let’s look at the 15 houses 2.km away, an even cheaper method to improve bandwidth would be bond the 15 lines from the DP(node) back to the FTTC …..No fibre required but can be added in the future.

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Interesting that this 4 year old property has a DP at the end of the cul-de-sac. The DPs are underground. Just because you can’t see them as there’s no pole doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

      The wiring plans for this section of the estate confirm the presence of DPs all over the place.

  9. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

    Looking forward to when Virgin Media and other operators release DOCSIS 3.1 products. These will be a ‘giant step away from DOCSIS / cable’ in the mind of Mr Broadband Forum no doubt.

    Marketing speak, nothing more. DSL sends digital information encoded in modulated analogue signals down a copper phone line, G.Fast sends digital information encoded in modulated analogue signals down a copper phone line. It’s DSL running across a larger bandwidth using TDD instead of FDD to separate upstream and downstream.

    The Broadband Forum is ‘a global consortium of approximately 190 leading companies covering the telecommunications, equipment, computing, networking and service provider sectors.’ Strangely enough they all want to sell something, and I guess this makes better press.

  10. Avatar zemadeiran says:


    Methinks that this is too little, too late.

    By the time this NOT DSL technology hits the UK the majority will be completely landline-less. Who in their right mind would want to be connected only in proximity to their home when ubiquitous wireless is available?

    Maybe that is why BT is trying to break back into the mobile sector?

    Exciting times ahead.

    1. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

      Think you missing put on something there 4G is certainly not an alternative for most people price and data limits are to low. A lot of cities are deploying WiFi yes but not all of them so fixed line is still certainly and will likely always be the main solution.

    2. Avatar zemadeiran says:


      ” A lot of cities are deploying WiFi yes but not all of them so fixed line is still certainly and will likely always be the main solution”

      Mark my words, you will be eating yours 🙂

    3. Avatar Raindrops says:

      “Fixed line” broadband obviously is not the future. Anyone that thinks it is must either be stupid or praying and hoping BT current business model will survive the next 20 years as cloud and mobile computing continues to drive forward and become the real future.

      Maybe some or should that be one on here do not own a mobile phone, or leave their house with laptop + 500 mile cable for their internet goodness. That mobile phone and tablet thing which people keeping buying though is just a fad, much like the internet and the idiots that said that 20 years ago.

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