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Band Plan Change Boosts Speed on Some UK G.fast Broadband Lines UPDATE

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 (11:17 am) - Score 4,272
gfast inside extension pod

A few customers with G.fast based hybrid fibre “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) ISP lines have this week noticed a modest boost to their download speeds after a resync, which appears as if it could be associated to an interesting change with the operator’s spectrum frequency allocation (band plan) for the service.

The change, which was first spotted by a member of the Kitz community, occurred on a short (good quality) G.fast line where the maximum attainable downstream rate jumped from 347Mbps to 383Mbps (+36Mbps), although we should point out that G.fast is capped at 330Mbps (max usable) by Openreach (BT). Another G.fast user on a slower line reported a similar resync event, which saw their speed go from 229Mbps to 244Mbps (+15Mbps).

Interestingly a tentative analysis of this speed increase appeared to show a change in the band plan for G.fast. At present Openreach’s G.fast technology uses 19-106MHz of spectrum frequency, which gives them some separation from the slower 80Mbps capped VDSL2 based Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service that harnesses up to 17.664MHz. The separation helps to avoid interference between technologies.

However the analysis appears to show that on related lines Openreach may have reduced G.fast’s starting point from 19MHz to around 17.69MHz, which leaves only a tiny gap to VDSL2. The extra spectrum thus results in a small speed boost, which will of course vary depending upon the quality or length of copper cable from a local G.fast pod. We have asked the operator and are awaiting their feedback, so at the moment this is not confirmed.

Earlier this year we did issue an update on Openreach’s related spectrum refarming (sharing) developments, which form part of a wider project to find ways of getting G.fast and VDSL2 to co-exist in overlapping spectrum frequencies down to 2.2MHz as a minimum (here).

vdsl gfast overlapping spectrum

As part of that work it was noted that the easiest first step, albeit one with the least performance benefit, would be to narrow the gap between VDSL2 and G.fast spectrum. According to the study group’s data, the potential gain to G.fast would only be up to 10Mbps if all they chose to do was reduce the technology’s start point from 19MHz to nearly 17.7MHz (i.e. trying to avoid any overlap with VDSL).

We are expecting to see an update from this study group by the end of 2019 but by the looks of it Openreach may have already enacted the easiest change and thus given G.fast a boost. Doing this would be fairly painless as the earlier study showed that interference wasn’t much of a problem. We hope to have an official update soon, so take this all with a pinch of salt until we get something confirmed.

As a side note this change might help to mitigate, albeit only a little bit, the impact on coverage from Openreach’s recent decision to raise G.fast’s minimum selling speed from 100Mbps to 120Mbps (here).

We’d love to hear from any other G.fast users who have spotted the above change, although such things are usually deployed in a phased way and so may not yet be impacting all such lines.

UPDATE 23rd August 2019

Openreach has just confirmed the aforementioned band plan change. A spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk, “Lowering the Gfast start frequency helps us slightly improve the performance of Gfast across the estate, and mainly on longer and slower lines, increasing speeds for those with the lowest speeds, and potentially reducing the number of No Sync / Sub 100 [Mbps] lines that we might get.”

The operator added that they are still in the “early stages of the rollout” at the moment and so it won’t be live for everybody.

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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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24 Responses
  1. Avatar Kits

    Really do not see the point of G.Fast it only reaches 24 homes from the cabinet on each side of the road. This is from checks in an area where the homes are semi detached but do not have enough room between each semi to allow a car to pass between them. Also the 20th to 24th semi are getting below 200Mbps which seems to show that to improve your speeds to max you need to live almost ontop of the cabinet. So the reach doesn’t seem to return enough for the cost involved in the technology.

    • Avatar Archie

      Agreed. It’s not practical. I have a friend who has a g.fast cab on his street but only the first few numbers can get it! Ridiculous! Unfortunately, given that it’s quite a long road he’s limited to very poor quality VDSL.

    • Avatar beany

      Yep same for my road of about 100 premises and only around 20 of those can have G.Fast.

  2. Avatar John

    That’s the *Kitz* forum Mark (not kits).
    Confused even further with the 1st poster in the comments being called kits (this isn’t kitz from the kitz forum).

  3. Avatar Lyncol

    G fast should come from the DP as well as cabinets…….in the ideal world!

    • Avatar John

      G.Fast from the DP is absolute overkill for OpenReach’s network layout.

      It was never intended to be a FTTDP solution by OpenReach but rather as FTTrN.

      Deeper in the network than the cabinets, but not as far as DP’s.
      It would be much more efficient you have placed pods are a branch in the network that served multiple DP’s at once and still be close enough that they all get maximum speed.

      If they ran fibre as far as my DP it would be MUCH cheaper to just install a fibre DP and give FTTP than install a G.Fast pod and associated power supply.

  4. Avatar Liam

    Does anyone know how long it usually takes from announcement to deployment? BT announced in November 2018 and someone suggested usually 9 months, but there has been no cabinet deployment I can see.

    • Avatar Spectrum 128k

      Could take weeks/months/years, ie how long is a piece of string?

    • Avatar CJ

      If you’re in the list of 81 locations announced in November 2018, the rollout or at least the schedule has been scaled back considerably since then. There has been no official announcement, but a quick check of the coverage maps over at thinkbroadband will show that most places on that list have no live g.fast service.

      With luck, some of those locations will now go straight to Fibre First and skip g.fast altogether.

  5. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    I never cease to be amazed that there will always be some people who are scornful of an improvement to a product or service. G.fast will only ever benefit a minority but it’s a cheap way to raise broadband speeds for those lucky enough to be live close to a pod and for whom the availability of cable of FTTP broadband might just be a dream.

    • Avatar Phil

      To be fair even Openreach themselves have sort of admitted it wasn’t a good solution and the emphasis is on FTTP now. Commercially it is a product that doesn’t have much take up simply because the only people that can purchase it are those already enjoying fast speeds.

      People that you say are “scornful” about it are those that simply realise G.Fast was driven by a need to tick boxes rather than “build out” the network to improve speeds for everyone, or improve speeds for those struggling to get much at all.

    • Avatar Bob

      Agree comppletely, those moaning about g.fast don’t seem to be aware that

      a) g.fast was always a temporary solution, or put simply, doesn’t affect Openreach’s long term FTTP plans. There’s nothing which suggests that those areas getting g.fast will never get FTTP or are put back of the FTTP queue.
      b) Is done relatively cheaply.
      c) Allows Openreach to compete with Virgin wrt headline speeds.

    • Avatar Fat Jez

      Bob, I think your comments are it in a nutshell. In my estate, we had FTTC installed a few years back. The VM came in and covered the whole estate and suddenly OR were no longer competitive. Now we have G.fast, which should help prevent the loss of broadband customers seeking faster internet access.

      It’s the perfect way to get people a speed upgrade without worrying about having to clear blocked conduits that may inhibit running fibre in easily (we’ll gloss over that BT told Taylor Wimpey that the estate was going fibre when it was built, had them put in the appropriate conduits and then ran in copper instead).

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Bob

      I sort of agree with you but I don’t think that is the full story.

      GFast was really an attempt to prevent the break up of BT by offering a very rapid fix.

      Fortunately both economics, competition and technology have moved so fast that GFast is a waste of time. And the medium term economics now favour FTTP.

      And even more fortunately OR have acknowledged this with a) Fibre First and b) scaling back the GFast program.

      My only regret in this is that time down the GFast rabbit hole was wasted and it held back FTTP deployment by a couple of years. It is really good to see that BT/Or now have a grip on this as FTTP is what the country really does need as it solves all the long line and EO stuff by necessity before the copper switch off.

  6. Avatar Martin

    I can confirm I had a resync yesterday and am now getting about 15Mbps more than before, also notice my attuneation figure has dropped somewhat.

  7. Avatar A_Builder

    Our GFast performance has gone from 287 down to 272 down.

    And that was after a reboot of the OR modem before that I was getting 150ish.

    Hard to know as it is not easy to interrogate the OR modem.

    So no improvement to report here!!

  8. Avatar Marcos Gilson

    Can someone help me I am trying to learn about broadband, I find it fascinating. I live at an address where I am currently receiving BT Fibre Plus ( up to 80 mbps) I am a fair way from the Green Cabinet and I receive a download speed to my router of 58 mbps and full upload speed of 20 mbps. When I do a Wholesale broadband checker it doesn’t mention GFast I presume because it’s not enabled yet but it does say FTTP enabled. What does this mean ? Does it mean that I will be able to receive Sky Ultrafast via FTTP or will I have to wait for GFAST to be enabled. My postcode is CO3 4BP I am about 450 meters from the green cabinet. Thanks for anyone that can help me.

    • Avatar Fred

      The FTTP result on the checker is for a product called FTTP on demand where Openreach will build a fibre connection specifically just for you, it is generally quite expensive, can be several thousand £ to several tens of thousands. It does then allow maybe a few neighbours on the same distribution point to get FTTP as well. Your VDSL speed seems pretty good for you predicted speed and distant to the cabinet. Yes g.fast not showing as not available.

    • Avatar GNewton

      “where I am currently receiving BT Fibre Plus”

      No you are not. You are on a VDSL package, it’s not a fibre package.

      Also, when you to BT’s online checker, you might see a FTTPoD which is for individual customers only, not part of a mass rollout, and therefore will usually cost you thousands of pounds to install, with a waiting time of several months. FTTP, if avaivable in your area, will be part of a whole area rollout and therefore be cheaper.

  9. Avatar Marcos Gilson

    Thanks Fred. So effectively no ULTRA products either from Sky, BT et Al, will be available until G Fast is activated? Do you think I am too far from the cabinet for G Fast to be feasible? Thanks for your help. Marcos

    • Avatar John

      It’s probably not your distance to the cabinet, but the fact there is no G.Fast on your cabinet.

      OpenReach need to install physical hardware on the local cabinet and have only done this in specific parts of the country.

      With a sync of 58Mb from FTTC (VDSL2) you would almost certainly be too far from the cabinet to receive G.Fast if it ever came to your cabinet anyway.

      In most cases only those very close to the cabinet who get the full 80/20 (or very close to it) are likely to benefit from G.Fast

  10. Avatar Hercules

    Virgin Media UK cable broadband somewhere remake again 2019 living under floor both lives of Birmingham and Bedford park for a month and next year again they end 2020 Virgin more jobs then Vodafone UK we wants to cable TV and Broadband.

  11. Avatar Marcos

    Thanks John.

    Looks like VM will be the way to go then, they offer 500MBmps. I have never been there biggest fan though to be honest and have previously found there routers to be sub standard.

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