» ISP News » 

Ultrafast 330Mbps G.fast BT Broadband Trial Gets Underway in Swansea

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 (9:10 am) - Score 2,451

As expected BT are now starting their third 6 month trial of G.fast broadband technology (ITU G.9701), this time in Swansea (Wales), which will initially offer Internet download speeds of up to 330Mbps (50Mbps upload) before rising to 500Mbps over the next decade.

At present BT already has two large-scale (around 2,000 premises covered) trials running in Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and Gosforth (Newcastle) in England. By comparison the Swansea test is a much smaller “technical trial“, which is intended to cover 100 homes and offices that exist inside Multiple Dwelling Units (e.g. blocks of flats) and business centres.

The trial itself is being conducted around the SA1 Swansea Waterfront and Maritime Quarter, which you can see on the map below.

By now many of you will know roughly how G.fast works, but if not then here’s the usual recap. The technology functions in a roughly similar way to the current ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable hybrid-fibre VDSL2 (FTTC) service that dominates the market (often dubiously marketed as “fibre broadband“), except that 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).

In keeping with this G.fast can similarly be installed inside / alongside street cabinets (like FTTC today), but the technology can also be delivered from smaller nodes / distribution points that may be built either underground (manholes) or placed on top of nearby telegraph poles.

The related nodes are fed directly by fibre optic cable and often BT will need to bring this cable even closer to your home than an existing FTTC setup, which helps to support the faster speeds. However these nodes still have to be powered by small nearby power supply units at ground level, which may increase the network complexity and maintenance requirements. The diagram below gives an idea of how this fits together.

g.fast broadband bt network diagram

The first two trials also tested a 1000Mbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) upgrade and various tweaks to the somewhat stalled Fibre-on-Demand (FoD2) product, which allows small businesses and rich home workers with deep pockets to cover the cost of having a pure fibre optic line built directly to their property (only available in certain FTTC areas that have been enabled for FoD). By contrast the Swansea test appears to be focused exclusively on G.fast.

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

This technical trial in Swansea builds on our work in the labs and on the largest customer trials of G.fast technology in the world in Gosforth and Huntingdon.

We will be testing ways of delivering ultrafast speeds to flats, apartments and business units, so the people of Swansea will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how this technology performs, and how we might deliver it to more of Wales and the UK over the coming years.

We are also grateful to both the Welsh Government and Swansea Council, who are playing a key supportive role with the trial. The people of Swansea are also playing an extremely important part in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of Wales and the UK over the coming years.”

Under the current plan BTOpenreach could launch a major UK G.fast pilot in 2016 and the official commercial roll-out would then begin in 2016/17 as per the original plan (here and here). The operator has pledged to make the new service available to 10 million premises by 2020 (roughly 40% of the UK) and “most of the UK” will then be done by 2025, although they will initially only offer the 330Mbps service before increasing to the full 500Mbps over the next decade.

However BT has warned that their plans to invest in G.fast are somewhat dependent upon a favourable outcome from Ofcom’s on-going Strategic Review, which among other things is tasked with examining whether or not to separate BT from control of their national UK phone and broadband network (Openreach).

Speaking of investment, BT has previously indicated that they currently spend around £300-400m per annum on “fibre” and broadly expect that to continue for the next 5 years until 2020, with the majority going towards their G.fast / ultrafast broadband roll-out. This can all be done within BT’s original £2.5bn commercial commitment, partly due to having scrapped their plans for a wider native FTTP deployment a few years ago.

Meanwhile some of BT’s rivals, such as Sky Broadband, view G.fast as a way for the national operator to “sweat its [copper] assets” instead of investing in the deployment of pure fibre optic (FTTH/P) networks across the UK. Mind you the latter would be significantly more expensive and take many times longer to roll-out.

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. BreakUpBT says:

    What a disgraceful waste of resources. G.Fast, like FTTC, is a load of junk in 2015.

    We’re part of BT’s ‘millions who can get FTTC’. Of course, we actually can’t get it.

    Yesterday, AT&T announced the rollout of 1 Gb/s symmetric FTTH, costing $70 per month, to another 14 million US homes.

    This will take the number of US homes with FTTH past 40 million. Add the 30 million who have access to Comcast, Charter and Cox who all offer 1 Gb/s+ packages, that’s 70 million of 120 million households.

    How about other countries?

    France – 4 million FTTH homes in 2015, 20 million in 2022
    Spain – 10 million FTTH homes in 2015, whole country by 2020
    Portugal – 2.75 million FTTH homes – 2/3 of country by end 2016

    What have BT managed? 250,000 premises (1% of the UK)

    UK consumer: When will we be able to get 1 Gbit/s symmetric FTTH for £50 a month please?

    BT: ‘F*** you, that’s when.’

    1. MikeW says:

      Strange. The last price I saw for gigapower was $110 per month, and the rollout seems to be the regulatory quid-pro-quo for buying DirecTV … but all that TV content makes fibre a worthwhile development there.

      How about if BT and Sky merged? Would that make for an incentive here?

      If you could get enough UK consumers to part with £75 per month for broadband, you’d find it everywhere.

      Meanwhile, back in the real world, the interview with INFL confirmed that people just don’t care about gigabit. Give them the option, and 95% choose the smallest, cheapest package at 50Mbps.

      It isn’t enough to build it. You need to get people to part with the money for it.

    2. Ignition says:

      Gigapower is $70 where Google Fiber is present, Mike, and if you allow AT&T to use your browsing history for advertising.

      As I posted elsewhere, of course, comparing Openreach to the USA is ridiculous. It would only be comparable if Ofcom were to allow Openreach to be fully reintegrated back into BT Group and to produce an FTTP network for the exclusive use of BT Retail.

      The same goes for Spain, actually. Telefonica are being allowed exclusivity on the FTTP they produce, and much of the rest is being done by altnets in Spain, France and Portugal.

      It’s apparently Openreach’s exclusive responsibility to fibre the country while elsewhere there are plenty of others putting wallet where mouth is and investing.

      Were BT to be given the kind of regulatory or competitive environments present elsewhere I’m sure there would be significant differences. As it is we score highly on many international metrics for availability, pricing, etc, there’s clearly a weak business case for gigabit here else others who can keep networks all to themselves would be doing it en masse, and regulation makes it incredibly difficult for BT to do it profitably in one go, so they’re adopting an incremental upgrade model with FoD on the side.

      Have to say, if I were on a couple of Mb ADSL and were given the choice of, say, 40Mb over a hybrid network within a year or waiting an indeterminate amount of time for a symmetrical gigabit I’d go for the hybrid option.

    3. TheManStan says:

      Don’t know what news feeds you are reading:

      Telefonica to cut fibre optic investment after anti-trust proposal:

      France, is spending 20BN euros with a significant proportion coming from gov… nothing like that here

      Portugal is a different market… low smartphone uptake of ~15% means home internet is MORE IMPORTANT, unlike here…

    4. Ignition says:

      Interesting how having to run open access suddenly changes the equation, isn’t it?

      Portugal a good part of the progress is thanks to altnets, not the incumbent. First to the game were Zon way back in 2009. Vodafone have a presence and will be investing further soon, too.

      As I said, regulation and lack of competition mean the business case to invest is pretty much non-existent.

      As far as the Sky/TalkTalk joint venture goes if it’s going so well where’s the press coverage? Surely they’d be wanting to show it off more? BT are happily showing off trials of G.fast / FoD 2.

      It should be noted that BT are trialling a system with optical splitters connected to G.fast nodes, making gigabit available on demand.

      It’s not all a hideous dystopia. The UK market has gone a different way.

    5. GNewton says:

      “The UK market has gone a different way.” It certainly has gone the wrong way, that much is quite obvious. A nationwide Fibre-on-Demand would have been a reasonable step forward, at least for businesses. And VDSL or Fibre should have replaced ADSL, and be there as a mere addition. Wrong policies going all the way back to the Thatcher era, and add to this an incompetent BT with a “Can’t do” culture and poorest customer services, and the result is today’s telecom mess in the UK.

    6. GNewton says:

      Should have read: “…and not be there as a mere addition…”

    7. TheFacts says:

      @GN – a nationwide Fod to every UK property? At what cost? Is telecomms in a mess just because over 100 companies can’t be bothered to install some lines to customers.

      Again where are the people saying the government should spend £20B or whatever on 100% FTTP. Strange how those here say that FTTP is needed but never actually say the government should fund it.

    8. MikeW says:

      True about prices when Google Fibre is a competitor, and you allow AT&T’s intrusion – but after phorm, we won’t see that here, and Google fibre is thin on the ground in the UK.

      Note how AT&T’s pages on GigaPower require the city administrators to come forward, and show demand for gigabit first. That isn’t going to happen here.

      I also agree that the regulatory setup here (open access, LLU, sub-LLU, etc) means BT’s options are limited financially. The stepwise upgrade is a necessity for them. For us subscribers, that isn’t actually a problem provided the upgrade steps keep coming at timely intervals.

    9. Ignition says:

      @GNewton Mr BreakUpBT is barking up the wrong tree. BT are not responsible for the environment they find themselves in. Had they dispensed with the ‘can’t do’ attitude as you call it shareholders would’ve almost certainly revolted and refused to fund *anything* new.

      There is no business case in BT doing anything other than the incremental programme they are doing. I don’t like it either but that’s how it is.

      It is interesting, though, that none of the people who seem to think BT should do all the work comment on the ‘can’t do’ attitude from Vodafone, Sky, et al. These guys have extensive fibre transport networks yet are perfectly happy using Openreach FTTC, don’t offer FTTP, and haven’t built competing networks.

      I’d suggest that given they could build networks, keep them all to themselves, and only have LLU revenues to protect, they’ve a far stronger ‘can’t do’ attitude than BT.

      Seems it’s fine for others not to build due to not being convinced of the business case, but in BT’s case it’s indicative of a ‘can’t do’ attitude if they don’t invest on these other companies’ behalf.

  2. JamesM says:

    The only thing that gets under my skin is that they decided to run it in a posh part of Swansea – And posh parts of the other places – but the other places where houses where as this is like a posho’s trial as if normal people in Swansea could not afford it.

    That’s a bit insulting to be honest

    1. Ignition says:

      The site selection in Swansea is I’m sure entirely down to demographics and BT bigotry and nothing to do with that BT wanted to run tests in an MDU near existing FTTP.

      If all they cared about were how wealthy the residents are the tests would’ve been done in Virginia Water, Kensington and Chelsea or Ascot, not Swansea, Newcastle and Huntingdon.

      Over 99.9% of premises were excluded from the trials. Should nearly all the country be offended by this?

  3. Darren says:

    So within a year I could go from 70/19Mbps to 330/50Mbps! Bring it on.

    Would the exchange rollout order be about the same for G.Fast as it was for FTTC I wonder? We were in the second batch of exchanges to get FTTC, hopefully be amongst the first to get G.Fast too (sory to those still waiting for a decent connection).

    1. Ignition says:

      I imagine it wouldn’t – BT have a far better idea of demand in various areas now, so I’d suspect the rollout would be in no small part dependent on that.

      It should be remembered, too, that with exchanges having everything in them needed for G.fast, etc, there’s no reason to do this exchange by exchange. With the original NGA projects extra kit was needed in some exchanges, here they can pick and choose a cabinet area or even a DP at a time.

    2. Darren says:

      Good points, I imagine the manpower is the limiting factor still so they will have to concentrate the rollout somewhat but definatly more flexible now.

      Our cab is unavailable for orders ATM awaiting capacity, a few years ago there were at least 150 ports used so it’s possible it’s full full by now, serves 600 properties and adsl is no better than 2-3 Mbps.

      The extra upload would be really usefull to have as soon as possible.

    3. MikeW says:

      I imagine that there will be a different feel to this rollout too, for two reasons

      a) The coverage targets: 40% by 2020.
      Provided G.fast range really is 350m, BT could achieve this by putting one G.fast cabinet alongside every FTTC cabinet, and going no deeper. That would, roughly, achieve 40% coverage.

      After 2020, they would have to go deeper to achieve the higher coverage target.

      b) The demand for higher speeds, at higher costs
      Statistics of VM’s products suggests that only 5-10% bother to take the top-tier products – the old 150Mbps tier, which is currently being upgraded to 200Mbps. That amounts to 2-4% of all homes passed by VM cables.

      On an average PCP of 300 lines, that would be 6-12 lines who would be interested.

      But if G.fast nodes are only sited at cabinets, initially, then only 40% of the PCP will be in range (and can probably already get 80Mbps). We can knock the 12-line demand down to 5 lines. A single, small-ish DPU might be enough.

      How should BT respond to that demand?

      There’s a bit of me that thinks, perhaps, that this could be a demand-led deployment. Something where an order triggers the upgrade.

      Fibre and power are already on-site, after all, so the civils work will be relatively localised and more easily planned.

      The head-end might need some hardware upgrades too. Doesn’t the backhaul for G.fast use 10G-PON?

    4. Ignition says:

      Not at the moment, Mike. GigE.

    5. Darren says:

      Really hope they get on with pushing the fibre deeper to the DPs. 240M of my 300M D-Side is aluminium, max speed might not be acheived at that distance especially on aluminium 🙁 Not really a problem on the download but the upload would be.

      Isn’t the ultimate goal to get fibre as close to the premises as possible. Installing G.Fast next to existing FTTC cabs is going to delay that considerably and leave many no improvement. BT have sweat the copper enough now, if they drag out G.Fast to the DPs I will be extremely dissapointed.

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £15.00 (*25.00)
    Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £19.50 (*22.50)
    Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • NOW £20.00 (*32.00)
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Shell Energy £21.99 (*30.99)
    Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £22.99 (*38.20)
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £70 Reward Card
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest Ultrafast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £20.00 (*35.00)
    Speed: 150Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £24.00 (*27.00)
    Speed: 100Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Community Fibre £25.00 (*29.50)
    Speed: 300Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Gigaclear £27.00 (*59.00)
    Speed: 500Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Virgin Media £27.00 (*51.00)
    Speed: 108Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (3501)
  2. BT (3008)
  3. Politics (1923)
  4. Building Digital UK (1917)
  5. FTTC (1882)
  6. Openreach (1821)
  7. Business (1678)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1469)
  9. Statistics (1406)
  10. FTTH (1364)
  11. 4G (1271)
  12. Fibre Optic (1166)
  13. Virgin Media (1159)
  14. Wireless Internet (1152)
  15. Ofcom Regulation (1139)
  16. Vodafone (836)
  17. EE (830)
  18. TalkTalk (760)
  19. 5G (760)
  20. Sky Broadband (744)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact