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BT Unveil Antrim as First 330Mb G.fast Broadband Rollout Area for N.Ireland

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 (2:23 pm) - Score 3,546

None of the 17 initial pilot locations announced for BT’s pilot of 330Mbps capable G.fast (ITU G.9700/9701) broadband technology has included anywhere in Northern Ireland, but all that changed today after they confirmed that 4,000 premises in Antrim would benefit.

The current G.fast pilot has already made the service available to around 138,000 UK premises, with the vast majority being in England and only a few in Scotland and Wales. However a report in the Belfast Telegraph has said that the town of Antrim (we assume they mean the town since Antrim is also the name of a county) in the North-East of Northern Ireland has now joined the list, although only 4,000 premises will be added.

BT Ireland has also revealed that G.fast could then be expanded to cover 200,000 homes and businesses in N.Ireland by the end of 2020. The pilot is BT’s final step before they start a full commercial deployment, which will aim to reach 10 million UK premises by 2020 and then “most of the UK” by 2025. We think that “most” will probably equate to around 60% UK coverage (inc. FTTP) but this is not confirmed.

Mairead Meyer, BT N.Ireland’s MD of Networks, said:

“We are delighted to announce that parts of Antrim will be among the first locations in the UK to get ultrafast speeds using G.fast technology. We recently rolled out ultrafast in Newtownards and it proved very successful for local residents and we look forward to offering Antrim the same benefits.”

The technology works by running a fibre optic cable to your local PCP Street Cabinet, which is then extended in size via the addition of a new extension “pod” that houses the G.fast line cards. Properties that exist less than 350 metres from this cabinet (copper line distance) should be able to receive speeds of up to 330Mbps (50Mbps upload). A 160Mbps (30Mbps upload) option is also available. Generally you’ll need to be within 500 metres of the cabinet to stand a chance of getting the service.

Interestingly the announcement makes no mention of BT’s deployment in N.Ireland being part of a pilot, although we assume that it is since previous documents have suggested that the commercial roll-out probably won’t begin until the latter half of 2017 and we’re still waiting for the final product pricing to be confirmed (pilot prices). However this may also be due to the fact that Openreach doesn’t technically exist in N.Ireland (regulatory fun).

Funnily enough we recall that the County Antrim area was also one of the very first areas in the United Kingdom to test FTTC technology, all the way back in 2005.

UPDATE:

Confirmed that Antrim is indeed part of the G.fast pilot, as expected.

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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.
Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. RuralBroadband says:

    Yet again, those already on good downstream speeds get upgraded, while the citizens of rural Northern Ireland/UK continue to suffer with slow internet connection speeds.

    1. FibreFred says:

      Maybe its still expensive to serve those rural areas with faster fixed line broadband?

    2. 125uS says:

      It’s commercial necessity I’d imagine. Copper telcos like BT need to compete with the cablecos. If BT don’t have an Nx100Mbps service available to compete with Virgin then they’ll lose business to Virgin. If they lose business to Virgin there’ll be less money to spend on rural broadband.

      BT need lots of customers buying premium products in urban areas to pay for the subsidy that rural connections require.

    3. CarlT says:

      Petition the government regarding that – this is nothing to do with it.

  2. Fastman says:

    125Us what utter rubbish frankly and complexly incorrect and provides you have no understanding of how the UK market currently works

    1. GNewton says:

      How does the UK market work then? How else does BT compete with VM?

    2. 125uS says:

      Complexly incorrect? That sounds like quite an achievement.

      The push for G.Fast globally is to allow copper networks to compete with HFC ones. Rural telephone and broadband connections are almost always loss-making and subsidised by more profitable urban ones.

      I’m not entirely sure which bit I’m failing to understand as none of this is controversial and would be covered in the first semester of a any kind of telecoms business degree.

    3. CarlT says:

      Openreach compete with VM on price. They will not invest the required money to compete on speed, in part because there’s no real demand in the UK for it. The vast majority of people want cheap, ideally bundled with football, they couldn’t care less about good.

  3. lyndon says:

    G.fast, yet another leap forward for copper technology….the fast go faster!

    This leaves a gap for the slow that don’t go faster.
    DSL rings copper techology could fill that gap.

    1. CarlT says:

      Kudos to whomever keeps trying to advertise DSL Rings on here for their persistence. For whatever reason, though, it’s still not really caught on.

    2. GNewton says:

      @CarlT: What is wrong with DSL Rings technology for non-urban areas?

    3. MikeW says:

      IIRC, “DSL Rings” isn’t a cheap solution.

      I saw some test involving a cluster of 12 homes, with a reach from the DP-located “DSL Rings” node of around 50-150m, so pretty similar to the current G.Fast rollout.

      The one thing in its favour was the backhaul solution, bonding all the existing copper for more speed & reach. However, I understand that copper backhauling is being looked at for G.Fast too.

    4. CarlT says:

      What Mike said basically. The main benefit was reach by using copper for backhaul and G.fast has obsoleted that. It can be done with existing technology right now.

      Had DSL Rings been a viable solution they would’ve seen far more take up. The CPE, especially, was expensive though and caused problems with the business case. Trying to make a ring out of a star was always a bit of a square peg, round hole scenario.

  4. ZStation says:

    I saw the g.fast extension pod appear on my cabinet in Antrim – surprising as we only just got VDSL last year.

    I’m with plus.net and am getting full 80/20 on VDSL, but no mention of the ability to upgrade. Perhaps it’s only for BT customers?

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