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Alternative ISP WarwickNet Beats BT to Deploy 500Mbps G.fast Broadband

Friday, September 22nd, 2017 (4:10 pm) - Score 2,255

Alternative network provider WarwickNet (CableCom) has today stolen a march on Openreach (BT) by upgrading their own street cabinets to support the latest hybrid-fibre G.fast broadband services with ultrafast download speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps (well above Openreach’s 330Mbps peak).

The ISP has a long history of building their own Sub-Loop Unbundling (SLU) based connectivity solutions and harnessing Openreach’s existing cable ducts, which has enabled them to build a variety of superfast FTTC (VDSL2), ultrafast FTTP and gigabit style leased line services to cater for business parks across England.

However the news that they’ve now been able to adapt the very latest G.fast technology and deploy it with a faster peak speed will come as a pleasant surprise (easier to do when your cabinets are located so close to their target businesses).

Ben King, WarwickNet founder, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We’re delighted to be leading the way nationally with G.fast implementation. Unlike the majority of other ISPs, we’re not just waiting for Openreach to deploy their service to simply resell a service.

It’s a significant move for us WarwickNet to now be able to deploy this technology, offering businesses the ultimate intelligent interim solution until fibre has the same coverage as copper does today.

We also like to think it is a testament to our dedication in helping the UK lead the way across Europe in superfast broadband technology.”

Apparently the first roll-out of the new technology, which only takes them two weeks to deploy, has occurred in Warwickshire and comes ahead of a wider roll-out across the country. Openreach’s approach involved building G.fast extension pods on to the side of their existing PCP street cabinets (48 ports initially, rising to 96 ports later) and we believe that WarwickNet may have done something similar as they’re also using existing cabinets.

The service is said to be able to provide “download speeds of up to around 500mbps for premises located within a few hundred metres of these cabinets,” but the exact specifics aren’t yet known. We hope to update again shortly once we have more information about their coverage, cost, performance and deployment style.

Openreach has talked about pushing peak G.fast speeds ‘up to’ 500Mbps once before, although at the time they suggested that this might not happen until much later on (by 2025).

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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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32 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    Well done to Warwicknet (and also a response to those that say g.fast has no place in the UK). As far as first to production goes, it’s not surprising that a small, focussed company can roll this out first as it doesn’t have huge workforces to train, enterprise IT systems to install, it doesn’t need anything like the initial critical mass and it also doesn’t have all those wholesale interfaces, both at the network level, and all those ordering, billing, diagnostic, error reporting and other systems for SPs.

    Some things are simply quicker to do at small scale. No question. However, I’ll still make a guess that Warwicknet’s initial production scale is still smaller, in terms of premise counts, as the OR trials.

    1. Fastman says:

      you would expect it to be

  2. Ultraspeedy says:

    Looks like they listened to N.McRae a couple of years back…


    Basically told if you want your own cabinet and vectoring then hope you do G.Fast. BT got what they wished, beaten to commercial Market with a product again… Oh dear 😀

    1. MikeW says:

      I was thinking of exactly that recording: Neil certainly gave them a more than fair warning: wherever Warwicknet had gone with VDSL2, they were guaranteed the future market for G.Fast too. That BT wouldn’t compete.

      Glad to see that Warwicknet took the ball and ran with it.

    2. Ultraspeedy says:

      Yep MikeW, great advice about the situation at the time from Neil in the video, and great to see Warwicknet listened.

      “Neil certainly gave them a more than fair warning”

      Exactly my point, i doubt he or BT are shocked the advice was followed which has led to a G.FAST retail product from someone other than BT first.

      Refreshing to see open discussion in the world of broadband has led to product rollouts.

  3. Fastman says:

    ultra positive as ever I see but not so black and white as Warwicknet are an SLU so you can only purchase a GFAST product from warwicknet (any you can only do it on a SLU Warwicknet cab) so you potentially have a lot less hoops to jump through

    1. Ultraspeedy says:

      Plenty positive here, i think Warwicknet have done a wonderful job and the advice Mr McRae offered to them about their cabinets was equally good.

  4. FibreFred says:

    Comments as expected from Ultratrolling

    1. Ultraspeedy says:

      Dunno what you mean all i said was they listened to advice from BT.

      BT will not have to worry about those cabinets and are no doubt happy an ISP listened to BTs network architect and Warwick net have a new product first to markey, happy days for all from what i can see.

    2. FibreFred says:

      “BT got what they wished, beaten to commercial Market with a product again”

      As I said, trolling

    3. Ultraspeedy says:

      I actually agreed with Neil McRae he stated in that video…

      “That location may be yours forever, so i hope you roll out G.fast”

      That was in 2015, the company Warwicknet listened to him and as a result are first to market with a commercial product.

      There is no trolling unless actually agreeing with BT advice is trolling.

      BT gave Warwicknet 2+ years notice about a planned product, its therefore reasonable to state BT knew by doing so they may be beaten to market. Well done to Warwicknet and Mr McRae on the excellent advice he offered to them.

      I dunno why you are so angry about any of that.

  5. Gadget says:

    An interesting piece, especially the comments (and I await more), particularly in the light of this thread https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/09/sckipio-unveils-next-generation-g-fast-ultrafast-broadband-chipsets-today.html where the pixels haven’t even dimmed out yet.

  6. PaulM says:

    Amazing, for a couple of years (dating back to 2015) we have had countless stories about BT and G.Fast and the roll out of the commercial product is only just starting (installing cabinet stages).

    Warwicknet we hear nothing from about G.Fast but then BAM, job done. No fuss, No fluffy PR, No countless stories. Well done to them on the deployment and well done to them for just getting on and doing it rather than blub on about what they will do in x years time.

    “Openreach has talked about pushing peak G.fast speeds ‘up to’ 500Mbps once before, although at the time they suggested that this might not happen until much later on (by 2025).”

    I suspect that will quickly change and it will be magically boosted, i doubt they will want to be 8+ years behind a much smaller business.

    1. Fastman says:

      this is a SLU only offering services on an SLU enabled DSLAM only

    2. Ultraspeedy says:

      Does that alter it being the first retail product rather than a trial or development product?

    3. Fastman says:

      this is a SLU only offering services on an SLU enabled DSLAM but it only services a defined group of customer on a defined numbers of cab who can only buy a product from Warwicknet

      its not a national roll out and there can be no FTTC / Gfast by Openreach on a SLU enabled cab

    4. Ultraspeedy says:

      “this is a SLU only offering services on an SLU enabled DSLAM but it only services a defined group of customer on a defined numbers of cab ”

      BTs rollout is not going to be any different to that or national either. Assuming its still for only 10 million premises. Is that not still a “defined group of customer on a defined numbers of cab”? How many you are supplying or where is also pretty much irrelevant to which company got to market first.

      As to who can buy it or the supplier i do not comprehend how that makes a difference to who is first to offer a retail G.Fast product either.

      Perhaps i am missing the point you are attempting to make. If i had to guess you are trying to communicate BTs product will be available through numerous ISPs, which it may well be. On the other hand G.fast may be like FTTH/P where only certain ISPs choose to sell it, regardless it still does not make a difference to who retailed it first.

      Personally i think a small company that listened to a High ranking engineer from BT and thus got their act together and rolled out a product not only quick but first should be congratulated, there is no argument as far as im concerned about one product being better than another, over who or how its sold.

  7. Neil J. McRae says:

    Its great news that lots of operators believe in our vision and are deploying G.FAST. More people deploying it the cheaper it will get which is great for all. I have huge respect for those who build networks rather than those who whinge about it.

    On our trials we had many customers that could get 500M and it worked beautifully.

    1. TooFar says:

      Up to about 350m, considerably less than the average cable length from cabinets.

      What’s the plan for the majority?

    2. Ultraspeedy says:

      “Its great news that lots of operators believe in our vision and are deploying G.FAST. More people deploying it the cheaper it will get which is great for all.”

      Absolutely, market adoption to new technology is a good thing. If it brings down costs that is also wonderful, especially if BT or anyone else deploying G.Fast ends up saving a considerable sum and can re-invest it towards further new products.

      “I have huge respect for those who build networks rather than those who whinge about it.”

      Indeed, its a pity some on this site still criticise people when they point this out. They seem to hate it when people do not build network and now they hate it when they do. New deployments from anyone are always an encouraging thing.

      “On our trials we had many customers that could get 500M and it worked beautifully.”

      Perhaps you could in meetings with Openreach put forward the idea of 3 product tiers for your final rolled out G.Fast product, IE 160Mb, 330Mb and 500Mb products.

      Having 3 speed choices would also align it with other products such as FTTC which has a 3Mb, 52Mb and 76Mb as choices to consumers.

      With a 500Mb tier also you would be matching Warwicknets product, have a product that beats VM (UPTO speed wise) and the most obvious, offer a considerably higher end speed product for those that are very, very close to a cabinet.

      Either way i look forward to reading about any final tweaks and what the options for G.Fast from BT end up being for the final rolled out product.

      Good luck with the product Neil 🙂

    3. Ultraspeedy says:

      ^^^ opps that “3Mb” FTTC mention should of obviously been 38Mb.

    4. Chris Collins says:

      Neil, I am awaiting the remote nodes which was the original vision of g.fast 🙂

      Current speed estimates without the use of vdsl2 frequencies are not great either, doesnt take much line length for upstream to be slower than vdsl2.

      G.Fast is better than nothing, but it feels like you picked the solution to offer the highest headline speeds at the lowest cost, vdsl2 on 30mhz using vectoring on “all” cabinets wouldnt improve so much more lines, but you wouldnt achieve the same headline speeds and would have to spend more money.

    5. Chris Collins says:

      if its not obvious I meant “improve” so much more lines.

      Shame we got no edit facility.

    6. MikeW says:

      Each improvement in broadband that BT has thrown into the market has seemed to offer a 3x-4x improvement on the previous generation. So it is this time too.

      This time there was a choice … should BT plump for G.Fast or for VDSL2 profile 35b.

      Profile 35b would give similar headline speeds for this round, but it would be a dead end; there would be no room for G.Fast afterwards (the overlapping spectrum problem you mention would be significantly worse).

      Going for G.Fast allows for the same headline figures now, but likely has more of a future before fibre is the only option. Those remote boxes running G.mgfast look plausible in a distant future.

  8. Neil J. McRae says:

    Interesting! What do you think the average loop length is?

    We have a lot of development work coming on G.FAST that will help with distance; more on this as soon as we develop it!


    1. MikeW says:

      Old BT presentations say that a typical D-side loop length is 400m, which probably tells us something about the median rather than the mean, but you surely know better than us.

      That piece of data seems to be backed up by Sagentia’s 2008 study, which puts a hair under 50% of lines at 400m or less. That study was based on a (much earlier) release of loop loss data by BT.

      Thinkbroadband have recently revised their coverage/distance estimates, based on the number of additional cabs being added for EO and infill. The distance seems to be dropping, which is a sensible conclusion … but hard to quantify. Again, you would know better.

    2. Chris Collins says:

      Mike I am in a urban area, I am almost the longest line on my cab (only 4 are longer), and line length is 362m estimated.

      Of course there is cabinets in less densely populated areas with much longer D sides.

      My issue is that openreach will probably consider 362m too short to rollout a node, they will enhance g.fast so it works up to 400-450m or so, but I expect the performance will be underwhelming, probably only slightly beating what I get on vdsl2 now DS and less US.

    3. MikeW says:

      My cab is similar – about 350m to the most distant property, and (according to Codelook) about 300 premises attached.

      The next 3 nearest cabs all seem to have a maximum range of around 400 metres.

      These are all in the urban part of a town, where the complete borough is labelled “Significantly Rural”.

  9. John says:

    I’m more interested in the performance of upload speed. Is it going to be sub 20Mbps unless your withing 50 Metres?

    1. MikeW says:

      It isn’t as simple as there being just a distance-based restriction.

      In G.Fast, upstream works on all the same frequencies, and bandwidth is instead achieved through Time Division multiplexing.

      The relative split of time between upstream and downstream is variable, so an operator can choose any mix.

      At the moment, that mix is chosen once and fixed for any one cabinet – every subscriber gets the same mix all the time. It is likely that BT would choose a single mix for all their cabinets.

      However, the researchers and chipset manufacturers are working on making this split dynamic, dependent on traffic demands at the time. Whether BT would use it is another matter.

    2. John says:

      Does that really make any difference though or are you still mostly limited by distance however it’s configured?

      I can’t remember where now but i recently read a G.Fast line getting lower upload sycnc than VDSL2 despite it being a really short line, <100M IIRC.

      G.Fast is no use to me if it can't beat VDSL2 on upload over a 300M line which is mostly aluminium.

      Interested to hear how WarwickNet have it configured and their upload sync stats vs line length.

    3. MikeW says:

      Its hard to give precise answers, because so few people have experience of G.Fast behaviour. Where telcos publish data (which isn’t often enough), they concentrate on downstream or aggregate.

      The total speed available over the line is indeed heavily affected by distance, certainly. Can’t get away from that fact.

      But upstream should fade at the same rate as downstream.

      We’ll see how true that is over the next 6 months. I’m not sure it will do well enough for 300m of aluminium though.

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