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UPDATE Sckipio Claims to Double the Distance of Ultrafast G.fast Broadband

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 (9:05 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 2,061)
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Israel-based semiconductor company Sckipio, which last year became the first manufacturer to release commercial hardware for the next generation hybrid-fibre G.fast (ITU G.9701) broadband technology that BT is also hoping to roll-out in the United Kingdom from 2016/17 (details), claims to have already doubled the technology’s reach.

In theory G.fast can deliver up to Gigabit (1000Mbps) level performance, but the technology’s hunger for more radio spectrum and its dependence upon copper cable means that you’d have to be sitting practically on top of a distribution point in order to receive that kind of performance.

As a practical example BT conducted a mock-up field trial of G.fast last year (full details here and here) and on the shortest 19 metre copper line they managed to achieve aggregated speeds of around 1000Mbps (Megabits per second), which equated to 231Mbps upload and 786Mbps download. By comparison the so-called “long66 metre line produced 200Mbps upload and 696Mbps download.

The above trial, which was in an ideal environment with no VDSL/FTTC co-existence clash (the real-world experience will be more challenging), partly explains why the operator’s official roll-out promise is for “most homes” to expect speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps (Megabits per second) instead of a Gigabit. BT has yet to run trials using commercial grade hardware (these are due to occur in the summer), but we strongly suspect that their deployment methodology would need to keep within 100 metres in order to work as promised.

Take note that in a real-world deployment G.fast would require BT to bring the fibre optic cable even closer to homes than it does today and that’s likely to form part of their strategy (e.g. installing G.fast nodes on telegraph poles, inside manholes and even inside existing street cabinets). So anything that could improve coverage would be a bonus as this would mean you could reach more people with the same performance and thus for less money.

Now Sckipio claims to have “successfully demonstrated“, albeit only as part of a laboratory trial, a tweaked version of G.fast that “doubles the official ITU targets” for the technology by delivering speeds of greater than 500Mbps over 200 metres of copper cable and more than 200Mbps at 400 metres (the 400m figure is particularly impressive for G.fast). However it’s unclear if this is just on the download or aggregated with upload.

David Baum, CEO of Sckipio Technologies, said:

G.fast was optimized to deliver up to 1Gbps in short distances. Yet, we tuned our technology to allow telcos to reach more customers with higher performance from farther away.”

Apparently the firm’s initial test results are described as being preliminary and Sckipio expects additional performance improvements as the solution is further optimized, although it’s unclear whether Sckipio is merely tweaking the existing hardware within specification or if its changes would require a new revision to the official standard. We’ll reserve judgement on this until more detail is released.

Sckipio’s primary problem in all this is that they’re not as big or as well recognised as the major manufacturers of similar kit, although markets can change and if their product meets the requirements of the big boys then anything is possible.

In the meantime it’s worth putting the predicted improvement into context by looking at a chart of vanilla G.fast performance, which comes from a trial that Alcatel-Lucent conducted all the way back in 2013 (details).

gfast and vectoring 2.0 fttc vdsl2 speeds

UPDATE 8th Feb 2015

Just a couple of notes and amendments to make on our article above. Firstly, it should be said that the Alcatel-Lucent chart above assumes performance above VDSL (starting at 17MHz, not at 2MHz). Sckipio has also been in contact to clarify that the performance they shared was based on utilising “the full” G.fast spectrum (i.e. this assumes VDSL/FTTC isn’t co-existing with G.fast and thus isn’t sharing the same spectrum).

Regarding the question of download-only or download and upload, Sckipio confirms that the speeds they report are a combination of both download and upload (aggregated speed). This is less impressive than if it were purely download, although delivering 200Mbps via G.fast at 400 metres even as an aggregate is still a big achievement for how this technology works.

On the other hand the raw VDSL2 standard, with modern vectoring methods, could potentially achieve something similar at aggregate if pushed. However VDSL2 will never achieve G.fast speeds when going closer to the home and a G.fast deployment would seek to put people closer to a distribution node rather than further away, thus delivering ultrafast speeds.

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14 Responses
  1. Matthew Williams

    Hmm interesting if this is true it would extend the life time of G.Fast but seems likely a full FTTdp rollout would be preferable even in Urban areas.

  2. DTMark

    Can anyone give me a commercial reason why BT would roll out these technologies anywhere other than in cabled streets?

    • FibreFred

      That would be the best business sense place to start yes, but after that commercially you would expect them to use it wherever people will pay for it, I don’t think they are fussy about which street you are paying from 🙂

    • DTMark

      Next question then:

      If you were BT, would you:

      1. Use your own money to invest
      2. Get the taxpayer to pay for it

      Before anyone gets excited about the idea of some wide-scale roll out of new tech, the taxpayer will have to be tapped first. History shows this and the precedent has been entrenched now.

      These devices cover such a small number of properties you might need anything up to a million of the things.

    • FibreFred

      I would expect them to pay for it themselves where its commercially viable to do so as they did with ADSL and VDSL

      Where is not commercially viable they don’t do it

      If the government are not happy about people being left behind they could make money available via tenders to different providers to fill the gaps

      “History shows this and the precedent has been entrenched now.”

      No that isn’t what happened, they rolled out ADSL and VDSL to most of the country themselves with their own money, the taxpayer only paid when the government chose to make that money available to those who tendered for the work.

    • Steve Jones

      Commercial logic would say that it will be rolled out where it’s both cost-effective with priority to those locations where competition is strongest. So clearly that means areas of relatively high property density with cabled areas first (and maybe areas where rival fibre networks might be installed). It might also get rolled out in those urban areas with lots of EO lines (like Shoreditch in London). There may be some other viable areas that are too far from cabinets for FTTC to be viable.

      As for more rural areas, then the costs of running fibre over longer distances might not make this commercially viable (at least whilst standard national wholesale pricing is maintained). So in those cases, gap funding may be required to make it viable. I certainly can’t see it being a priority.

      One thing to note (which people often forget) is that this is not just an issue of money. It’s also one of available resources. Anything running fibre deep into the D-side is going to require a lot of it. The Australian NBN seems to be struggling with this, as they are passing homes at the rate of about 400,000 per year (which means that they’ve got 15 years or so to go at that rate) and they are lavishly funded.

  3. Telecom Engineer

    This could have major effect on deployment methods. Rather than dp mount, dslam could be placed one or two joints back – increasing coverage and lowering cost each time. Would make it easier to forward power from the cabinet / line dc with more pairs available. Interested to see how it stacks up outside in the real world.

  4. No Clue

    “UPDATE…
    Sckipio has also been in contact to clarify that the performance they shared was based on utilising “the full” G.fast spectrum (i.e. this assumes VDSL/FTTC isn’t co-existing with G.fast and thus isn’t sharing the same spectrum).”

    The BT fanboys can now stop wetting thereself for something which wont happen here.

    • themanstan

      But with a longer reach it´s simply a case of hardware exchange and providing limited products for those who don´t want to pay… who needs VDSL2 tech if you don´t have techs co-habit.

    • No Clue

      So your gonna scrap FTTC?

    • themanstan

      Why not? If roll-out follows the VDSL2 plan then the majority of kit will be 10 years old and will be fully depreciated.

    • No Clue

      SO now you think this new not even tested in a real world product would be available within 5 years TO EVERYONE? (FTTC has already been here around 5, so another 5 would equate to your 10 years).

      Yeah good luck with that FTTC is almost 5 years in and FTTC is not even complete.

      By the time FTTC is complete IE 2017 (at least that is the target now, it was 2012 then 2015 now 2017) that will put it at about 7 years old in some areas. Leaving you 3 years to get this new product to EVERYONE and ripping out FTTC deployments that came along late in the game which would only be 3(ish) years old.

      Yep good thinking there.

      Seriously do BT employees and ex-employees have to go on a course on how not to think long term?

  5. themanstan

    I guess i´ll have to use small words with you. I am not BT employee and I have never been a BT employee. My main take is business models in the real world.

    http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2014/70.aspx#.VNeFSPmsViM

    See press release from ITU… if you read it is says there are real world products in the hands of service providers. But i´m sure you´ll ignore this evidence just like you ignore every other bit of evidence people provided to you…

    I don´t expect this to be a fast roll out. Nowhere did I say it would be. I would expect 1-2 years for trials from 2016-2017, so initial roll-out in 2018-2019… which would make equipment about 10 years old. And if, as I said, it follows the VDSL2 plan and you´ve conviently done the math it´s 10 years, then components will have aged proportionally and they will be therefore all about 10 years give or take a year. There will be some which will be younger, but if the economics are good or if areas where there is high demand the infrastructure will have paid for itself…

    • No Clue

      That link has nothing to do with this story. That link dates back to December 2014. It does not even mention the organisation in this story IE “sckipio” anywhere nor the doubling of speed they have developed. Or their lab demo.

      As to your estimated time, it clearly states in the story for this to happen “VDSL/FTTC isn’t co-existing with G.fast and thus isn’t sharing the same spectrum”.

      FTTC started in 2010 its not due to be complete until 2017, thats 7 years, based on your own stated estimate FTTC will be and i quote “the majority of kit will be 10 years old and will be fully depreciated.” That means you will be scrapping some FTTC deployment which is less than 3 years in age (the last deployments in 2017) to reach your 2018/2019 target for this stories tech. Good luck ripping out or decommissioning FTTC and and installing this new tech all inside of 3 years. They could not even get simple FTTC hooked up in that time let alone a project like this FOR EVERYONE.

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