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More Details on WarwickNet’s New UK 500Mbps G.fast Broadband Service

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 (12:01 am) - Score 2,206

Last month WarwickNet became the first alternative network ISP to launch a 500Mbps capable G.fast hybrid fibre “ultrafast broadband” service for businesses via their own street cabinets (here), which would be well above Openreach’s 330Mbps peak. Today we have some new details to share.

The ISP has good history of building their own Sub-Loop Unbundling (SLU) based connectivity solutions and harnessing Openreach’s existing cable ducts to run new FTTC, FTTP and Gigabit style leased line services, which meant they also had the means to do an independent G.fast setup and that’s precisely what they’ve done.

Unfortunately last month’s announcement left a lot of unanswered questions and thankfully we’ve now had a few responses to our queries. Firstly, the G.fast kit being used by WarwickNet can be installed inside their existing street cabinet structures and so they’ve not yet felt a need to build side-pods to extend the current space (Openreach have to build pods on the side of their PCP cabinets).

When deploying our infrastructure and cabinets we have built these with future technology growth in mind, and so have room for expansion inside the existing cabinets, so we don’t need to install side pods to add more equipment for these additional services,” said a spokesperson for the ISP.

In terms of the package and price options, these are still being developed but the provider has offered a rough outline.

Current package levels available at this point:

G.Fast 1 = 200Mbs download, 50Mbs upload
G.Fast 2 = 300Mbs download, 75Mbs upload
G.Fast 3 = 400Mbs download, 100Mbs upload

NOTE: We note the absence of a 500Mbps option and WarwickNet said that they are “currently looking at the feasibility of a 500Mbs package,” but apparently they need more data from real-world deployments before they can “confidently deliver” a 500Mbps service at scale.

The roll-out so far has only gone into parts of Leamington Spa (Warwickshire) and a roadmap is currently being developed to “deploy across all cabinets with demand or those required imminently or upon customer request.

The ISP also said that lab tests were suggesting that copper lines under approx. 200 metres should be able to achieve 500Mbps down, which is about in keeping with the technology’s known capabilities at this time. “This is new technology for us, so we’re still collecting performance data on real-world BT copper,” said the spokesperson.

However, the provider noted that most of their customers have “relatively short lines” to the cabinet (compared with typical residential copper) and use “relatively modern high quality copper” cable, which makes it easier for them to deliver on the advertised speeds to any businesses they cover.

We also queried whether WarwickNet were making use of the latest ITU-T Amendment 2 and 3 to the G.fast standard (e.g. cDTA and 212MHz). The ISP confirmed that their current equipment didn’t support either of those, yet. Additionally, 212MHz is not currently permitted on the UK frequency plan (ANFP) and so they couldn’t use that even if they wanted.

Openreach has of course talked about pushing peak G.fast speeds ‘up to’ 500Mbps before, although at the time they suggested that this might not happen until much later on (by 2025). One big advantage that WarwickNet gains by deploying their own G.fast kit into an area before Openreach is that the latter cannot then build a rival G.fast network due to the problems with technological compatibility (vectoring etc.).

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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.
Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Mike says:

    Doesn’t BT just not do 500Mbps because hardly anyone would get it?

    1. asrab says:

      Think you are correct – if i look around my area, the vast majority of address are more than 300 meters from the cabinet, and this is just walking distance, the cable run will actually be much longer,
      Given GFast attenuates from that distance on wards, i dont think any gfast products would benefit our neighborhood,

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Any major operator has to balance the desire for an attractive advertised rate with what is viable in the “mass market” sense. Plenty of people technically live close enough to receive 500Mbps but it’s not enough, which is also part of the reason why FTTC (VDSL2) remains capped at 80Mbps, even though it could go faster.

      However future G.fast enhancements, some of which are hinted at in the article above, might make the prospect of a 500Mbps tier via Openreach more viable. But I think we can expect 300Mbps to be the peak on their network for a few more years. Not that anybody really “needs” 300Mb, I suspect the 160Mbps tier will be way more popular.

    3. GNewton says:

      Most people who can get G.Fast are already capable of getting 80Mbps though even here only few use it, as compared to the 40Mbps or 50Mbps packages. Not to speak of VM often available in the same areas. So how will there be a market demand for G.Fast with its 160Mbps or 300Mbps? G.Fast is a good public relations exercise, but the demand for it, especially when it is more expensive than VDSL2, will be very low. G.Fast won’t have much of an impact in terms of serving real market needs, especially since it won’t be available on longer lines or in the more difficult rural areas.

    4. Mark Jackson says:

      At present that’s the big question mark, but in my experience you should never underestimate the power of big headline speeds to attract subscribers; even when they don’t actually need all of that performance.

      You also have to consider that the roll-out cost of doing G.fast via existing PCP cabs is fairly low (vs FTTP etc.) and initially it won’t support many ports, so a more gradual uptake wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

      Anyway this is a topic about WarwickNet and not Openreach. On WarwickNet this is a moot point because they’ve built their cabinets close to the businesses being targeted right from the start and rival competition often isn’t a factor. Business users also have different demands from residential ones.

    5. Steve Jones says:


      I strongly expect the wholesale price of the VDSL 80/20 and 55/10 services will be be reduced as the Ofcom 40mbps mandated reductions are introduced. Not to the same level, but at least in parallel. That will create some market space for the g.fast products and I expect that the 160 mbps service will end up being priced clos to the current 80mbps product. It won’t happen immediately, but over a couple of years or so.

      It should be borne in mind that g.fast requires a fraction of the market share of gea-fttc to be commercially viable (at least in “pod” form) as the vast majority of the capital costs were incurred when the VDSL cabinets were installed. Pods don’t require ground works, they slave power off the VDSL cabinets, spare fibre will already be in situ and so on. I think it likely the capital investment on a g.fast pod will be a fraction of the VDSL cabinet, perhaps just 15-20%. In addition, if g.fast

      The original commercial case for VDSL was predicated on 20% takeup, but that was of all the suitable lines on a PCP – perhaps 50 out of, say, 250. Of course we now know the national average would now amount to 100 out of those 250 with Ofcom expecting it to climb to, the equivalent of perhaps 200 out of that 250 given the drastic price cuts they are enforcing.

      With g.fast I would expect that a pod would be viable at 40 lines, perhaps fewer. If that was at a wholesale cost of around £8.50, that’s £4k per year wholesale revenue, and if the cost of a pod install is in the area of, say, £20k (and I suspect it’s less), then it will pay back fairly rapidly even when other costs are taken into account. Even if it’s just the marginal gain of, maybe, £4 a month over the VDSL service, then that’s still an extra £2k per year per pod at a modest 40 lines each. That’s before taking into account the saving in VDSL line cards to cope with those 40 lines.

      Speculation of course, but if it’s priced right, then commercial case should be a sane one. The difficulty, of course, is that the 160mbps service might be limited to about 50-60% of premises in the UK without the rumoured technical advances and/or deeper penetration. The great advantage is that the roll-out should be relatively fast.

    6. Steve Jones says:

      I should say I do realise this is a Warwicknet article, so it’s probably not appropriate to explore the OR version and the retail market. My only excuse is it’s a response.

      As far as Warwicknet is concerned, then this is surely a no-brainer as their typical customer is on a short line and they can greatly increase their speed option with a relatively small capital expenditure. Being fairly small they can also do it quickly. In addition, as they have business customers, their pricing model can be rather different to that OR has to factor in to its business cases.

    7. GNewton says:

      @Steve Jones: Yes, coming back to the WarwickNet: I agree with you. Actually, WarwickNet is a positive example on how to deploy a meaningful G.Fast service in its coverage area, unlike BT, as explained above.

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