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

Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017 (11:04 am) - Score 25,896

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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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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