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Revealing G.fast’s Broadband Speed Improvement Since Openreach’s Trial

Monday, August 21st, 2017 (12:01 am) - Score 7,328
gfast pod side view with openreach engineer

Some recent data from BT’s Head of Access Network Research, Trevor Linney, has revealed how much Openreach’s new 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre G.fast broadband technology has already improved since last year’s trial. Mmany more enhancements are on the way.

Back in 2015 Openreach predicted that it should eventually be able to deliver 300Mbps over a 350 metre copper line using G.fast (here), which reflects the cable that runs between a local PCP Street Cabinet (with a G.fast extension pod attached) and your home. Nevertheless the initial production hardware is still expected to fall some-way short of this and that’s because not all of the expected enhancements are ready for a live environment.

Proposed Future G.fast Developments (as stated in 2016)
* Enable higher bits per tone (12>14)
* Improve the receiver sensitivity (<-150dBm/Hz)
* Increase the transmit power (4>8dBm)
* Optimise the frequency usage with VDSL
* Increased vectoring group sizes (>96)

The last batch of data from Trevor Linney, which we covered just over one year ago (here), revealed that about 75% of lines on the operator’s field trial had achieved a download speed of over 300Mbps. However the same data also noted that 73.7% of those lines were shorter than 150 metres (rising to 87.4% for those under 200 metres). G.fast signals degrade over longer copper line distances so this gives us some useful context.

Openreach has now kindly furnished ISPreview.co.uk with some recent data from Trevor that reflects 340 active connections on the operator’s current pilot. This shows how much G.fast has improved since last year, although it lacks the crucial context of distance but you can probably make an educated guess from the chart.

gfast pilot performance

Crucially other improvements are on the way, such as the ability to harness 212MHz of spectrum frequency (currently up to 106MHz) and the possibility of efficient spectrum sharing with existing VDSL2 (FTTC) broadband services, although those won’t be ready in time for the first commercial products. Openreach also has 96 port capable hardware (currently 48 max) from Huawei working in the labs but it’s not yet ready for the wild.

Over the longer term Openreach has also talked about boosting the top speed from 300Mbps to 500Mbps by 2025 but we’re still a long way from that. Some recent data from Thinkbroadband, which is based on a very small sample size and should thus be taken as highly tentative, may give us a rough indication of how G.fast is currently performing over different copper line distances and how many will benefit.

Distance to cabinet (metres) Estimated downstream speed Estimated upstream speed Cumulative %’age of premises at this distance
100m 500 Mbps 50 Mbps 11%
150m 300 Mbps 45 Mbps 20%
200m 250 Mbps 40 Mbps 31%
300m 150 Mbps 20 Mbps 52%
370m 100 Mbps 20 Mbps 64%

The majority of those covered by a G.fast cabinet should thus expect to receive an “ultrafast broadband” speed of faster than 100Mbps (we note that Ofcom separately defines “ultrafast” as 300Mbps) but other issues, such as poor home wiring, may impact that figure (note: less than 100Mbps is G.fast’s fault threshold – details). The performance should then continue to improve as new enhancements are added.

One day it would be nice to see 300Mbps being achieved at a distance of around 300-350 metres but it looks like that might be difficult. In the meantime the operator’s pilot is set to reach 1 million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of 2017 (details). After that the commercial roll-out will then aim to reach a total of 10 million premises by 2020.

We suspect that the most popular G.fast package will be the 160Mbps tier, not least since the bulk of people should be able to receive this and its pricing should make it quite attractive.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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57 Responses
  1. Avatar Gee-not-so-fast

    Any idea what sort of speed could be expected on a ~500m loop to the cabinet?

    Or to put it another way, at what distance does VDSL performance outmatch G.Farce?

    • At present it looks like you’d be reaching about VDSL2 peak speed levels (80Mbps) at around 400m, although the chart lower down on this page suggests that future improvements could improve that on a clean line.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/broadband_cable.php

    • Avatar CarlT

      G.farce. How new and witty.

      Around the 350-400m mark at the moment is where G.fast and non-vectored VDSL 2 equalise.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Adtran’s product summary includes their latest graph that show G.Fast’s performance (for both 106MHz and 212 MHz), relative to VDSL2 17a and VDSL2 35b.

      Find it here:
      https://goo.gl/ttsLNZ

      G.Fast’s potential is clear to around the 450m, but in the absence of profile 35b, it is likely to be much further.

      However, the need to reduce spectrum usage for coexistence with VDSL2 will change these numbers.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @CarlT: “G.farce”

      Why? G.Fast is supposed to be cheaper to be deployed than fibre.

      However, it will hardly improve superfast or ultrafast coverage as it will have to compete with Virgin Media. And market demands for G.Fast will be low.

  2. https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#9/51.0621/0.5150/gfast/ shows where we are sure G.fast is actually live, should explode soon with the expansion places

  3. Avatar welshgit

    not to upset anybody, i am on 80meg and i live 830m from the cab, i have 0.9 copper most of the way, d/w12 ( nice and thick wire ) from the pole to the nte, a vdsl plate and a data kit extension to my router,
    it is in sync today at

    DSL Line Status

    Connection Information

    Line state: Connected
    Connection time: 2 days, 21:10:54
    Downstream: 71.46 Mbps
    Upstream: 11.26 Mbps

    the most i have seen is 75.8meg

    • Avatar Slow internet

      My Cabinet is 250 meters from the property my stats are,

      Line state: Connected
      Downstream: 70.36 Mbps
      Upstream: 19.99 Mbps

      Provider: Talktalk

    • Avatar JustAnotherFileServer

      @welshgit 71.46 Mbps is not 80meg, so no need to worry about upsetting anyone.

      I’m about 500 meters from the cabinet and my connection is:

      Downstream sync speed: 80.00 Mbps
      Upstream sync speed: 20.00 Mbps
      Network uptime: 17 Days, 0 Hours 9 Minutes

    • Avatar CarlT

      Zero upset from me. At 500m as the only line on the cabinet I was able to achieve 80Mb with room to spare – attainable was 98Mb.

      Vectoring would immediately return me to that performance, but I’m not going to get green eye over other people getting higher speeds on longer lines 🙂

  4. Avatar Slow internet

    At these performance levels there could be a major issue at hand – so the properties having copper connection above 200 – 370 meters would still benefit from GFAST but way short of the 330 meg people are expecting, the price needs to be really attractive to drive uptake from the fastest fibre of 76mb available currently,

    • Avatar CarlT

      The biggest thing that would improve performance for people at longer distances is either finding a way for G.fast and VDSL to co-exist or switching off VDSL entirely and having G.fast take its spectrum.

      I have seen some indications of BT using some of VDSL 2’s spectrum to boost G.fast performance. How viable this is going forward I don’t know.

  5. Avatar Mark

    Does any of the equipment being used for these trials help aleviate cross talk because over the 4 years I’ve had vdsl I’ve lost a 3rd of my download speed and I’m getting infinity 1 speeds but paying for infinity 2.

    • Yes, Vectoring is a mandatory part of the G.fast standard.

    • Avatar MikeW

      It should be obvious, but note that:

      G.Fast includes vectoring, which will prevent/reduce the crosstalk impact from the other G.Fast lines. But having vectoring on the G.Fast lines won’t do anything to help the existing crosstalk on VDSL2 lines.

  6. Avatar Mark

    Good to know thanks

  7. Avatar adslmax Real

    Here is live g.fast estmated by BT Checker:

    100 to 150m away from the cabinet:
    https://s30.postimg.org/kxc2q1u29/G.Fast_100_to_150m.jpg

    150 to 200m away from the cabinet:
    https://s30.postimg.org/e85ja18q9/G.Fast_150_to_200m.jpg

  8. Avatar adslmax Real

    BT are rubbish that why. We need a true FTTP instead. G.Fast is ok for a very short line from the street cabinet.

    • Avatar bob

      No we don’t need true FTTP. Pointless waste of money when vast majority of population has access to the internet at decent speed.

  9. Avatar Ethernet guy

    It is mission impossible to start laying out slightly old, but proper Ethernet cable.
    Let’s stick with ancient as mammoth shit phone wire.

  10. Avatar Slow internet

    No one is going to buy a service which is only slightly better (faster) than what we currently have, speed increases have to be significant for uptake to happen, who is going to pay extra for no real noticeable difference in speed or performance, look at the speed differences virgin media provide between their packages, 50, 100, 200 and 300 mb all with small increments in price to encourage higher package,

    what is bt going to provide – 50, 70, 130, 170 ???

  11. Avatar adslmax Real

    But I think ISP are going to bring 160/20 product because it will benefits many of us. As for 330/50 will be very limit for fewer sales.

  12. Avatar Marty

    I wonder if it would be easier in the long run to delay the commercial roll out of G.fast to include FTTdp with this in certain areas. To alleviate the unstable speeds over longer copper lines. Hard to say at the moment but time will tell.

    • Avatar Slow internet

      Fibre to the DP would of course improve the performance and speed, but why not just go for full fibre in these situations ?

    • Avatar Lee

      The final drop from the dp to each is often the most time consuming and costly part.

    • Avatar MikeW

      No matter what happens to FTTdp, the G.Fast pod, at the cabinet, would happen anyway … for at least the few premises close to the cab.

      It is a no-brainer to start with that one. It has almost no civil-engineering cost for power or for fibre, so offers the cheapest possible manner to give some speed improvement, enough to be both labelled ultrafast, and to be competitive with VM.

      Ofcom also inadvertently gave Openreach an incentive to get the hardware out there as fast as humanly possible.

  13. Avatar Ultraspeedy

    All this does is confirm to me G.Fast is nothing more than an interim solution at best and can not be used for decades to come.

    Its a shower of proverbial right out of the blocks.

    “less than 100Mbps is G.fast’s fault threshold” Based on that statement and the “Cumulative %’age of premises at this distance” figures it appears likely more than a third of premises would not be able to manage that 100Mb.

    Even if they improved the situation (likely 5+ years down the road) and got it to deliver that speed to half or even better two thirds of premises, that would still leave a third or around 10 million premises with under 100Mb.

    Utterly pointless, those with the full 80Mb on FTTC are unlikely to need or want faster so they will not buy it, those stuck around what is likely to be a waterdowned 10Mb USO would want it but cant because they will be too far from the cabinet.

    Its a real shame they did not solve time trying to solve the how to power a node on a pole issue more and used that method to deliver. NO DOUBT BT public service announcers will say they are still working on this, too bad it will likely be another decade off and something better will be around by then.

    No wonder BT are not worried about the low amount of connections per cabinet GFAST can provide… Few will want it or to pay considerably more for it and the rest will be screaming for it but be too far away to get the 100Mb figure anyway.

    All it needs now is a mix of manufacturers for the cabinets a couple of years and the discovery one brand can not do a certain protocol properly, like the Huawei and ECI G.INP issues.

    Congrats again both now and in advance BT. Ever expanding small altnet FTTP providers and Virgin with Docsis must be laughing at you with glee.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Even if BT were going to aim to reach 95% coverage with G.Fast, they’d still have to install a node at or near the existing cabinet.

      Even if the cabinet’s territory needs another 2, or 3, or 5, or 10 nodes, it is a complete no-brainer to install the central one first.

      Then just scale that argument up 30,000 times, or 40,000, or 50,000.

    • Avatar Alan

      “Even if BT were going to aim to reach 95% coverage with G.Fast, they’d still have to install a node at or near the existing cabinet.”

      What… Even if they had gone for the nodes on poles approach, they just do not want to run fibre further than the cabinet along with power. Its all about cost rather than improvement.

      “Even if the cabinet’s territory needs another 2, or 3, or 5, or 10 nodes, it is a complete no-brainer to install the central one first.”

      Not sure i understand that even if BT were installing nodes on poles. If you have a 400 Metre long road and the cabinet is at one end of the street and phone poles are at every 50 Metres along that street how is the cabinet the central node?

      Im about 500 Metres from the cabinet thats the actual route length my phone cable runs back to the cabinet, yet between me and it are at least 6 Phone poles. The central node for me and for anyone else a similar cable length in the opposite direction could never be the cabinet.

      The only way G.Fast was going to have any significant benefit was if nodes were used on poles, BT YET AGAIN took the cheap easy way out though. The majority are 300 and higher metres from a cabinet its there in black and white in the story.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Well Alan, pop back when you do understand.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      I think he understands perfectly with the “they just do not want to run fibre further than the cabinet along with power. Its all about cost rather than improvement.” quote.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Funny how they say different.

      Perhaps he’s making things up.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      Who is the they which say different?

      G.Fast as it stands does not in 99% of cases (unless you want to bicker over a couple of metres cabinet distances) bring fibre any closer to anyones premises.

    • Avatar MikeW

      The same “they” that you included in the quote of “they just do not want to run fibre further than the cabinet along with power”

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Alan
      “The majority are 300 and higher metres from a cabinet its there in black and white in the story.”

      Actually the majority (52%) are within 300m of a cabinet, and at 370m 64% are within reach of 100m download speeds so would see a reasonable benefit vs VDSL. With the additional enhancements Mark outlines, all those would see further speed gains and others would gain ultrafast speeds.

      In your words. It’s there in black and white in the story. 🙂

    • Avatar alan

      “Actually the majority (52%) are within 300m…”

      If that were true then all the figures less than 300m would need to be included along with the the 300M figure to add to 52% as they would also be “WITHIN” that distance.

      Look at the chart the way you have and it would actually be saying WITHIN 100m=11% + WITHIN 150m=20% + WITHIN 200m=31% + WITHIN 300 METRES=52% which equals a total of 114% WITHIN 300M. Which is obviously impossible and incorrect.

      You can not be WITHIN a certain distance yet be ranked as a different distance. Furthermore the furthest mentioned distance is not a 100% figure which it would need to be for everything a shorter distance to be mathematically accurate, and it still would not be with the figures as they stand.

      Furthermore those figures are for people with the service currently NOT the country as a whole.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “G.Fast is nothing more than an interim solution at best”

      Well spotted, so was every dsl product as well.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Alan
      I think you missed the table and in particular the column with the heading – “cumulative %’age of premises at this distance”. The table clearly shows 52% at 300m, suggest you take another look at the story.

    • Avatar alan

      I think you miss the point that for premises to be “WITHIN” 300 Metres distance, anything less than that 300 Metres figure must be included in the “WITHIN” figure, using your own original description of what the figure means. It thus can not be a figure of 52%. Its pretty simple maths which im sure a calculator could help you with.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      You will have to excuse him and his counting issues, and comprehension of what is and is not “within” something. This is the same person who a couple of weeks ago did not think HS1 carried freight, he’s gone the other way now and thinks everything is “within”. Not really a shock he can not count, or understand what is and is not “within” a services remit. One day he’ll be right on something, it will obviously be a while though.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Alan
      So we agree that 52% of premises are indeed within 300m of a cabinet, in other words the majority of premises. This is the opposite of your earlier post, glad we all agree now.

    • Avatar alan

      “This is the same person who a couple of weeks ago did not think HS1 carried freight”

      I missed that comedy, though yeah i can see how someone that clueless would have trouble with something more complicated.

      “So we agree that 52% of premises are indeed within 300m of a cabinet”

      The only thing i agree on is you can not count.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Alan
      Luckily for you, no counting is required, just the ability to read and comprehend. To make this easy for us both I’ve extracted the relevant entry from the table in Mark’s story, both entries coming from the same row:

      Distance to cabinet (metres) – 300m
      Cumulative %’age of premises at this distance – 52%

      Since you don’t believe that this indicates that 52% of premises are located within 300m of a cabinet, please explain what you believe it does indicate instead.

    • Avatar PaulM

      He has explained it very clearly already. Its not him that can not comprehend things, he comprehends perfectly what the word within means and comprehends any figure below 300 Metres must be within 300 Metres.

      You either can not understand that because you are naturally stupid or just being obtuse about yet another post you have made and now want to ignore. Personally id say its both.

      The reason the data does not add up to a final figure of 100% is perhaps because where it comes from they even admit “G.fast is still so new that we don’t have a large set of speed test data to verify this table yet”.

  14. Avatar Graeme

    I think the major ISPs are going to have a very hard time marketing a top-line 330/X service with such limited reach and extreme variability depending on the D-side loop length. I can’t see why they’d bother. I expect a few of the niche providers will offer it just for the kudos.

    Virgin can promote a 300Mbps service because, local contention issues aside, they can actually provision that speed to their end users. OK, it might only be usable at that speed between midnight and 5am because of the shared nature of DOCSIS, coax and the general state of their network, but it’s nevertheless possible.

    I’m on a 500m line with VDSL2 and I get around 57Mps down. This likely puts G.Fast out of bounds for me and my neighbours.

  15. Avatar Max

    Hey, what about Exchange Only lines, still stuck in stone age.
    Will this help and provide solution?

    • Avatar Graeme

      Not in the current deployment model Openreach are using. G.fast pods are bolted to PCPs and slaved off the existing VDSL2 cabs for fibre connectivity and mains power, so can’t exist without them.

  16. Avatar Bob Hannent

    The thing rarely addressed in discussions about ultrafast broadband is the market desire for it. Sure people who come to a site like this want it and my 200Mb cable connection is nice but among the population, apparently uptake of VDSL2 isn’t anywhere near signficant when available. Most punters are happy enough with ASDL2 and availability of G.Fast isn’t likely to change anything in that regard.

    • Avatar Bill

      I think you are right that most people aren’t too bothered about higher speeds. Once you get beyond a certain threshold, that allows you to do what you need online, the rest is driven by marketing.

      The problem is that all those who don’t get a reasonable speed are not remotely helped by something like GFast from the cabinet.

      However I do think the threshold of what is needed is increasing, and most families would probably want 30Mbps within a couple of years.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Not sure about that. Believe VDSL 2 recently overtook ADSL in terms of total number of connections.

      The sweet spot isn’t ultrafast but it seems enough people want faster than it can deliver that its uptake is lower than both VDSL and cable.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @Carl
      I’m not sure VDSL2 alone has overtaken ADSL/2+ yet. I think it is the combination of all NGA (VDSL2, FTTP and cable) that has overtaken ADSL/2+.

      @Bob
      3 years ago, there was a clear 20% of VM’s subscribers that obviously would pay for speeds of 100Mbps+, when most were happy on 50Mbps or less.

      Since then, VM had gradually increased that percentage up to 50% of their subscribers … but it was less clear whether that was real demand for the speed, or because the speeds were bundled with the mid-to-higher tier TV bundles. A mix seems likely.

      Now VM have set a minimum speed of 100Mbps+, so we won’t easily visualise the demand any more.

      Nevertheless, there is some demand there.

    • Avatar Mike

      A lot of people are simply unaware it’s available, something I suspect is largely down to providers wanting to keep the ADSL cash cow going as long as possible.

  17. Avatar Jeff

    Whoopie, we have a massive 3mb here and no sign of an upgrade. Openreach and BT are continually failing to upgrade here so 50 homes on the same cabinet missed again and again even though another cabinet has been upgraded to FTTC. Would love 10% of the speed

  18. Avatar Phil

    G.Fast in the UK is called Long Range G.Fast by the industry. G.Fast was never designed for such usage models as it is being used now. VDSL using a newer profile would have been better from such distances.

    The biggest issue is POTs, plain old telephone cable, it needs replacing with something else designed for data and it doesn’t need fibre necessarily, just something designed for data. G.Fast is hardly that brilliant a technology when you think about it, it’s just a hack. Think how long we’ve had Ethernet running over twisted pairs, for decades running upto 100 metres at 100Meg symmetrical has been easy and cheap, more recent times Ethernet can go upto 100 metres at 1000Meg symmetrical with no upto rubbish (and very easy to add any number of switches and extend that reach), yet G.Fast at that distance will be lucky to get 300/30 and can’t easily be extended, and that’s only after huge R&D investment and expenditure on complicated bits of kit.

    If Openreach/BT had been forward thinking enough all new installs over the last 10 years or so would be using network grade data cable to the cabinet, and could be connected up simply using standard Ethernet hardware, and longer runs could have a switch en-route powered by PoE, no need to re-invent the wheel with G.Fast or VDSL.

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