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BT Openreach UK Demo 100Gbps “Hyperfast” FTTP Consumer Broadband

Monday, June 12th, 2017 (2:01 pm) - Score 4,493

Openreach (BT) and Huawei have today offered a glimpse of a “hyperfast” future by conducting a live demo of their Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP/H) “consumer broadband” network running at an eye watering 100Gbps (Gigabits per second), but you won’t be able to get this at home anytime soon.

At present most residential FTTP packages on Openreach’s network are only affordable up to a top download speed of 330Mbps (30Mbps upload), although more expensive business packages should soon become available and they can deliver up to 1Gbps. Similarly Gigaclear’s FTTP network has already tested speeds of up to 5Gbps (symmetrical) and B4RN reckons they could push 10Gbps down their fibre optic lines if really needed.

Right now there isn’t a huge advantage to taking Gigabit speeds because domestic hardware (wifi and computer kit etc.) would struggle to deliver it to all your devices and most Internet services can’t make use of such speeds, but that’s today and we’ve already seen how the Internet can evolve (remember the days of 14-56Kbps dialup and text dominated websites?).

Never the less Openreach are currently ramping up their roll-out of PON (Passive Optical Network) based FTTP, which could reach 2 million premises by 2020 and possibly many more by around 2025 (there’s some very tentative talk of doing 10 million but that’s not set in stone), and in keeping with that they’re keen to show just how fast a consumer FTTP line could become in the distant future.

As such the test equipment has been designed to replicate a fibre connection in a real-life setting with a single fibre carrying a 100G signal from exchange equipment and carried over standard technology used in Openreach’s existing FTTP network.

Mark Lam, CIO for Openreach, said:

“This is the first time this has been demonstrated in public, and because we’re using standard infrastructure we can show exactly how we‘d transmit data to a customer’s premises.

It demonstrates a massive hike in speed – the highest we’ve see worldwide. In fact it’s so fast that it’s actually very hard to transmit anything over it that can properly illustrate the capacity. It would pump more bandwidth into your home than the TV broadcasters use to transmit their raw footage from a football match.

Bandwidth requirements are increasing at a rate of around 40 per cent year on year, as services such as ultra-high definition video grow rapidly. There are predictions now that it would take more than 5 million years to watch just the amount of video that will cross global networks each month in 2020 .

We also need to be ready for the growth in other areas such as the new 5G mobile networks – set to be launched across Europe at the end of the decade, which also depend on fibre networks. By 2020, it is predicted that smartphone traffic will exceed PC traffic.

This latest development is showing where fibre broadband technology is headed and clearly demonstrates there’s more than enough capacity for it to have a secure future.”

The above demo isn’t the only big technology announcement to come out of BT Labs today. Last year the operator teamed up with Huawei to demonstrate a data transfer speed of 5.6Tbps (Terabits per second) by combining 200Gbps wavelengths of light (multiplied several times) into a single optical fibre “superchannel” (here), which was aimed more at improving capacity in their core UK network.

The good news is that the same team has since managed to double the wavelengths they can harness to support multiple transfers of 400Gbps over a single fibre and they predict that this enhancement could result in a theoretical top speed of 13Tbps!

Professor Tim Whitley, BT’s MD of Research & Innovation, said:

“This trial proves that we can release even more capacity from fibre optic infrastructures by further boosting the efficiency of light transmitted over a single strand of glass. It builds on our record-breaking speed achievements over the last couple of years – transmitting 3Tbps and then 5.6Tbps over a single optical fibre, and running the first 2Tbps Superchannel in our live network.

Although there isn’t a need for multi-terabit speeds in the core network just yet, we want to stay ahead of the game and ensure that the core network is ready to support the performance that our customers might demand in the future.”

The trial, which was run over a live fibre-optic “loop” between the BT Labs at Adastral Park (Ipswich) and BT’s Bishops Stortford Exchange (distance of 250km), demonstrated that it’s possible to transmit such speeds over the UK’s core networks with “stable, long term, error free performance, and an unmatched 6.25bits/s/Hz – the most efficient achieved on a real-world fibre link using production-grade hardware and software.”

We wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that BT and Huawei were able to double this performance again in time for next year.

Separately BT has also developed a trial of a new software-defined network (SDN) architecture to enable a next generation highly flexible broadcast network. The operator plans to demo this by sending multiple HD uncompressed video flows across their SDN and through to a TV production studio via high-bandwidth network pipes.

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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.
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14 Responses
  1. New_Londoner says:

    Good to know that there is an upgrade path, even if it’s not needed this decade.

  2. baby_frogmella says:

    “although more expensive business packages have recently become available and they can deliver up to 1Gbps.”
    Really? Out of curiosity can someone please tell me which business ISPs are selling openreach based FTTP services greater than 330/30?

    1. AndyH says:

      BT Wholesale do not have the 500M & 1G FTTP products in their portfolio, yet. They have sought to get an idea of demand for these speeds before adding them to their portfolio.

      160/30 and 330/50 will be available to order with BT Wholesale from 7 Aug. You can already order them with Openreach.

    2. baby_frogmella says:

      Thanks AndyH. Looking at the new FTTP 330/50 product in Mark’s link (available from 18/09/17), it has the same wholesale pricing as the existing 330/30 product so I guess I could ask my CP to upgrade to their slightly faster service in Sept without an increase in monthly costs, probably subject to a one-off charge though. The extra 20 Mb upload, whilst not huge, would be welcome 🙂

    3. AndyH says:

      Although the line rental is the same, there will be higher potential backhaul charges for the ISP from the extra speed. I wouldn’t assume that ISPs will automatically let their customers move from 330/30 to 330/50 for no extra charge.

    4. 125us says:

      Talk talk, kcom, virgin and BT (amongst others) sell Internet products upto 10Gbits (in both directions) using Openreach last miles.

  3. Neil Kean says:

    It’s laughable that BT demonstrate FTTP broadband speeds of up to 100gbps when they can’t even achieve the speeds and reliability they advertise for home broadband at the moment but of course the home customer isn’t where the real money is made…..

    1. FibreFred says:

      Do they have fttp speed and reliability issues?

  4. David says:

    That’s just great not.so how about getting fibre to those of us that haunt yet got it and gave been waiting for well over a year.

  5. Kevin says:

    I would like to know to put it bluntly when will I get super fibre in my area B69 it’s 2017 it’s like living in the stone age.

  6. Ultraspeedy says:

    “Openreach (BT) and Huawei have today offered a glimpse of a “hyperfast” future by conducting a live demo of their Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP/H) “consumer broadband” network running at an eye watering 100Gbps (Gigabits per second), but you won’t be able to get this at home anytime soon.”

    Yep will not be anytime soon considering its only around 10% of premises they have hooked up to FTTP.

  7. nimish says:

    So they just slapped in 100GbE adapters at both ends of a single mode fiber?

    1. AndyH says:

      This is PON, not P2P.

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