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Openreach Extend 330Mbps G.fast Broadband Pilot to 1 Million UK Premises

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 (11:04 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 7,300)
openreach_gfast_pod_and_engineer

Openreach (BT) has today announced that their pilot of 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre G.fast broadband technology is being significantly expanded to include 26 new locations across the United Kingdom (1 million premises by the end of 2017). Various areas from Liverpool to Cardiff are on the list.

The announcement follows our report on Monday (here), which revealed that G.fast (ITU G.9700/9701) extension pods had been popping up all over the country and these were all in areas that existed outside of the 20 current pilot locations (current deployment). So far the pilot has already made Openreach’s new service available to over 100,000 premises and today’s update claims that this has now been pushed to 500,000, with 1 million homes and businesses expected to be reach by the end of 2017.

All of this forms part of the operator’s plan to make “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) speeds available to 12 million UK homes and businesses via a mix 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) and 330Mbps hybrid-fibre G.fast technology by the end of 2020, with many more expected to follow by 2025.

Today’s news also confirms that most of their currently plan is still dominated by G.fast (10 million premises), although Openreach are consulting on a “large scaleFTTP roll-out that could reach a similar figure by around 2025 (here).

Peter Bell, Openreach’s Director for Network Solutions, said:

“G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds for millions of people across the UK in the next few years. BT has a long history of pushing the boundaries in telecommunications, from way back in the earliest days of the electric telegraph, right through to today’s global fibre networks. We’re a world leader in fibre innovation and this is the next stage in our story.

The UK is ahead of its major European neighbours when it comes to broadband and we’re doing everything we can to anticipate and meet changing customer demands. The development of G.fast technology is a key part of moving the UK from superfast to ultrafast broadband speeds as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The technology itself works in a similar way to FTTC (VDSL2) by running a fibre optic cable to your local PCP Street Cabinet, which is then fitted with an extension “pod” (right side of cabinet) that houses the G.fast line cards (this can handle up to 48 ports, but it should eventually extend to 96 once they can solve the problems with power, heat and size). After that the G.fast service reaches your home by the existing copper line.

People living within c.350 metres of their PCP cabinet should see the most benefit, although faster than FTTC (VDSL2) speeds could potentially be achievable at up to around 500 metres. The top two G.fast product tiers offer download speeds of up to 160Mbps (30Mbps upload) and up to 330Mbps (50Mbps upload), while a fault threshold for the service has also been set at 100Mbps (here).

gfast long openreach diagram

Take note that in our view this effectively represents the start of Openreach’s commercial deployment in all but name and we’d expect final pricing to be announced fairly soon (preliminary prices are here). Otherwise here are the new areas, although exact coverage details are not yet known.

G.fast’s 26 New Pilot Locations
Armley
Bath Kingsmead
Bishops Stortford
Brierley Hill
Brighton Hove
Chorlton
Eltham
Glasgow Bridgeton
Glasgow Douglas
Great Barr
Hammersmith
Hemel Hempstead
High Wycombe
Hunslet
Kidbrooke
Liverpool Central
Lofthouse Gate
Manchester East
Mansfield
Northern, Birmingham
Parsons Green
Portsmouth North End
Pudsey
Rochdale
Wandsworth
Whitchurch, South Glamorgan

Now all we need are for some residential broadband ISPs to start offering public packages. So far only Cerberus Networks has launched a public G.fast product and it’s clearly more intended for business users (here), although BT and TalkTalk are both listed as trial providers and we know that Zen Internet have been toying with the service too (sadly none of them have public packages for it).

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49 Responses
  1. Frank Butcher

    Can ISPs use existing FTTC cablelinks for G.Fast services or does it require a new cablelink like FTTP? I remember reading a while back there would be some consolidation of this so a cablelink could support VDSL / G.Fast / FTTP ?

    • I don’t think that’s currently possible, at least not during the trial / pilot phase. BT’s SIN document for G.fast states:

      http://www.btplc.com/sinet/SINs/pdf/STIN520v1p0.pdf

      These Cablelinks will be dedicated to GEA-NGA2 G.fast (i.e. no mixing of NGA1 and NGA2 services).

      The pilot also seems to specify a 1Gbps Cablelink but there should be a 10Gbps option for when it goes fully commercial.

    • MikeW

      That STIN looks to explicitly allow both 1Gb and 10Gb cablelinks as equal possibilities.

    • AndyH

      The original G.fast trial was done over a mix of 1G and 10G cable links.

      It makes little sense to buy a 1G port when dealing with ultrafast speeds.

    • Frank Butcher

      No unless they start doing heavy discounts on the cablelink costs, a lot of ISPs are likely to be very slow in offering the service as is currently the case with FTTP.

    • Lee

      The reason the ISP’s don’t offer FTTP is because of the amount of time training agents, updating systems, processes and procedures would take too long and cost too much for the relatively small number of potential customers.

      I fill expect ISP’s to offer G.fast when it becomes a fully launched product. They’d be too scared to let BT take all the customers and profits.

  2. Slow internet

    I wonder if there is an official list of all the areas/cabinets that will be covered by the 1 million target

    • Optical

      Well, here in Bath,G.Fast pods are appearing on cabinets everywhere even in the suburbs, had engineer fitting one to my cabinet other evening at 6pm & I’m about 3 miles from the Kingssmead exchange.

    • Internally there will be, but publicly we usually only get very vague information and the rest is supplied by availability checkers. You should expect the checkers to be showing the new coverage shortly.

    • Ultraspeedy

      Any word on what BT are charging the consumer/End user per month? Also how long do these pilots run for?

    • Not sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were aiming to simplify by charging a similar amount to their Infinity 4 FTTP package for the top G.fast option.

      As for pilot time-scale, I’d say that’s irrelevant, it will probably ride into the back of their commercial launch as and when Openreach finalise the date for that.

    • Ultraspeedy

      Would be nice if along with the glossy waffle BT mentioned the important bits like price it will cost people, guess we will have to wait.

    • Lee

      It’s still a pilot, so most users will not be paying much, if anything extra until full product launch.

      That could be 6 months or more from now, so it would be silly to publish prices.

    • PaulM

      “so it would be silly to publish prices.”

      It would not be silly for BT to publish or give an idea on consumer pricing, they have already gave an idea of wholesale pricing, which using your believe makes them silly already.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/05/bt-openreach-publish-tentative-uk-wholesale-prices-g-fast-broadband.html

    • AndyH

      “It would not be silly for BT to publish or give an idea on consumer pricing, they have already gave an idea of wholesale pricing, which using your believe makes them silly already.”

      BT Consumer/Business are trialling G.fast so it makes no sense for them to provide pricing until they are reading to launch it as a product.

      Seeing as they are charging a nominal amount at the moment (£1 a month), it would be misleading and irrelevant to announce this.

      Common sense should tell you though that if Infinity 4 is £59.99 a month (incl line rental) then G.fast would be around this price for the 330/50 service.

    • PaulM

      “Common sense should tell you though that if Infinity 4 is £59.99 a month (incl line rental) then G.fast would be around this price for the 330/50 service.”

      For the same or similar money will G.Fast provide the same real life speeds as the £59.99 FTTP package?

    • Lee

      In the same way that FTTC Infinity 1 and 2 are sold as up to products (as is FTTP) then I suspect G.fast will follow suit.

    • Ultraspeedy

      That has nothing to do with his query on pricing.

  3. adslmax Real

    Surprise nothing for Cuckoo Oak?

  4. fastman

    why you surprised

  5. Marty

    Curious the upload has changed from 50mbps to 30mbps is this because of no reverse power from peoples homes or is that still on the table?

  6. Sean Mcguigan

    Why is bt ignoring Northern Ireland with the pilot ? I have gfast pods outside my door ??

  7. FastInternetPlz

    Still waiting for Openreach to connect our damn Fibre Cabinet as it is in place just needs Hardware/Fibre Cables and Power. I am feeling very doubtful that my area will have FTTC before Christmas or even this year now…….. So to hear they are rolling out G.fast is a punch in the chest for me, because they wont do that here till FTTC is done…..

    • MikeHunt

      Use 4G until then?

    • h42422

      Using 4G to stream 4K movies is … expensive.

      I can definitely read my emails on my 2 Mbps ADSL line, and do everyday banking and check the weather forecast. If that were my internet use, I would not be at all unhappy with the connection.

      Those activities that need higher speeds also consume a lot of data, and 4G operators charge a silly amount of money for 500 Gb/month. EE seems to charge £29 for 30Gb. Relish offers unlimited data in some ares of London, but it also then means extremely slow prime time speeds.

      I do not think we should offer 4G as a solution to anyone suffering from slow speeds. 4G can help those who want something temporary in their second homes and those who just read their email and browse the internet. These people don’t complain about their connection speed either as they do not care.

      If someone is complaining, you can rest assured there is a a lot of data that needs to move. It can be many things. Video streaming is the obvious choice as all sorts of entertainment would be available out there only if. I would need to synchronise raw photographs to a cloud service. These can vary from 15 to 300Mb per photo and there can be thousands of them. My 0.1 Mbps uplink is just not good enough for this, and my Three sim only includes 4Gb of personal hotspot data, which is not very much.

      Offering 4G as a solution to those who suffer from slow fixed line speeds is borderline insulting, as it more likely than not completely ignores the reason why a faster connection is needed.

    • Chris P

      @h42422
      So you could use 4g, just the cost is prohibitive.

    • MikeHunt

      @h42422

      I said “until then”, 720p should be sufficient for most people, Three does HomeFi 40GB for £20 p/m.

      Also you can just download heavy stuff via an AYCE sim on your phone to a USB OTG connected drive which doesn’t affect your hotspot allowance.

    • Bill

      Good to see that mobile broadband is becoming a more viable option. This Homefi deal looks rather good (although it is £24 not £20).

    • Mike

      Looks like they’ve raised the price.

    • Fastman

      so which cabinet are you and what causing the delay

  8. FastInternetPlz

    MikeHunt, Even 4G is Crap here it is that bad it cuts off and goes down to 3G which is worse than my home internet, I have looked at so many options and non are obtainable, so yeah FTTC is my life line.

    • MikeHunt

      You’ll probably need an external antenna connected to a 4G router and then set it to 4G only.

      Officially I can’t get 4G in my area but with an antenna+router I get 60-70Mbps 3/4 bars.

  9. Simon

    Well, I keep watching my cab even though I know it’ll never get here. If it ever does I’m like under 100M away and get 80/20 now

    So heres hoping

    • MikeHunt

      Have you checked your counties rollout map to see whoes responsible for it? BDUK? BT commercial rollout?

    • Simon

      I must admit now I haven’t I just keep an eye on my PCP/NGA to see if anything is happening.

    • Fastman

      Simon you community could co fund it if there are enough of you

    • Simon

      Fastman, Not around here. Most are on benefits. But I think it will happen. After all my brothers tiny tiny exchange which has less than 1000 people on it just got FTTPoD and I hear pods are popping up there too.

      I might have to move! (and I would, to his massive house!)

  10. Sean Mcguigan

    Does anyone know when it will be going on sale and out of pilot ?

  11. Matt F

    Well as my exchange doesn’t have FTTC yet and no plans for it, I won’t hold my breath on gfast

  12. Drew Post

    I wonder if FTTP Infinity 4 will see upload bumped up to 50 now. Seems odd to have the proper fibre installation with a slower upload speed.

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