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BT Says 100 Businesses to Join Swansea 500Mb G.fast Broadband Trial

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 (9:47 am) - Score 1,363

BT has confirmed that 100 businesses in the city of Swansea (Wales) will benefit when they begin their technically-focused trial of 500Mbps capable G.fast (ITU G.9701) broadband technology in the area this summer.

The trial itself was first unofficially revealed by ISPreview.co.uk last April and you can find a lot more detail in our original article (here). Unlike the two other trials in Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and Gosforth (Newcastle), which will both focus on connecting around 2,000 homes to the service, the Swansea test will be conducted on a smaller scale.

The G.fast technology is, on the surface, not dissimilar in its approach to BT’s existing 80Mbps FTTC “fibre broadband” technology. FTTC takes a fibre optic cable from the telephone exchange and pushes it to your local street cabinet, but after that the broadband is delivered into homes over existing copper cables using VDSL technology (FTTC can work with some premises as far away as 2,000 metres from the cabinet, although it prefers sub-400m).

By comparison G.fast uses significantly more radio spectrum (106MHz+ vs just 17MHz for FTTC) and operates over a much shorter final run of copper cable (ideally less than 100 metres), which means that the fibre optic cable has to be taken even closer to homes (usually as far as a small distribution point [FTTdp] that could be built on top of telegraph poles, inside a street cabinet or even put underground).

Mike Galvin, BT’s MD of Strategy and Operations, said:

BT’s research into ultrafast ‘G.fast’ technology is now moving out of the labs and into the field. Wales is an excellent location to trial cutting-edge new broadband technologies, and we’re delighted that the Welsh Government and The City of Swansea will play such a key role.

This partnership further enables BT to deploy and validate the next generation of multi-media business and consumer communications capabilities – capabilities that will ultimately benefit the entire UK and ensure our communications services remain among the best in the world.”

The Swansea trial will be open to all ISPs and focus on how G.fast can serve Multiple Dwelling Units (blocks of flats) and business premises. We also suspect that they might cap the initial speeds at around 300Mbps (the same speed as their FTTP product), since the plan is to reach up to 500Mbps within the first 10 year commercial deployment cycle.

The commercial roll-out itself is due to begin in 2016/17 and has promised to eventually make download speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps available to “most homes” across the United Kingdom, although BT has warned that any attempt by Ofcom to forcibly separate out its Openreach division could damage their future investment plans for the technology.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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15 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    “The commercial roll-out itself is due to begin in 2016/17 and has promised to eventually make download speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps available to “most homes” across the United Kingdom”

    would seem to be at odds with:

    “Mr Patterson said the company had not made “anything in terms of specific commitments to rollout””


    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Focus on the word “specific” in that. It’s also part of trying to make the Government nervous about approving any major regulatory shift in thinking. The original announcement was quite clear about 2016/17 and so far nobody at BT has said that it won’t begin in that period.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      “Most homes” is fairly specific?

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I think you might have missed my point :). I mean BT is correct when it says they haven’t made any “specific” commitments. For example, a vague 2016/17 window is not very specific.

  2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

    People should not take company announcements of general aims as “commitments”. Company strategies and aims change all the time according to market conditions. A commitment is something altogether stronger and only really exists when backed up by a properly financed plan. If/when BT commit to a particular target to their wholesale customers (or the government, or shareholders), then it can be considered to be a commitment. At the moment g.fast roll-out will be subject to all sorts of conditions, like the cost and logistics of doing it, market conditions, competition, expected demand and, not least, regulatory issues.

  3. Avatar adslmax Real says:

    We will stuck with FTTC 80/20 for a long while until end of 2017 or earlier 2018 after EU vote.

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      They might be starting in 2016/17, if all goes according to plan. However, they also said it will be a 10 year rollout.

      On average then, you should expect to remain limited to 80/20, barring any vectoring upgrades, for at least 7 years – 2022/23.

      Of course, you can keep us entertained in the meantime by letting us know how your 300Mbps VM connection turns out, when they go through their next upgrades.

    2. Avatar TheManStan says:

      10 years which is similar to the FTTC roll-out time, which if it is approximately the same footprint ~80-90% would make sense.

    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      “you should expect to remain limited to 80/20”

      Don’t you mean “up to 80/20” 😉

  4. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Good to see no change then

    A positive story involving BT always attracts mostly negative comments 🙂

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      Forgive me for not being terribly excited when it emerges that as many as 100 premises in one town in Wales might be in line for some genuine NGA connectivity in 2015.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Its a trial, hopefully one that will lead on to greater things, why so negative?

    3. Avatar Kyle says:

      If i had a penny for every trial BT had ever run which in the end amounts to nothing id own my own small island away from BT fetishists.

    4. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Name ten

    5. Avatar Kyle says:

      I could name more than 10 but doing so would mean enduring the conversation longer with you so the short answer to that is NO….. Insert ‘so you can not name 10’ related comments, and your typical abuse when you fail to get your own way below.

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