BT hits copper high in G.FAST broadband trials

September 26, 2014 | 13:20

Tags: #broadband #fibre #fttc #fttp #gfast #gigabit

Companies: #bt

BT has announced the results of field trials of G.FAST technology, demonstrating the ability to download at speeds approaching a gigabit per second over standard copper telephone wires.

BT has previously been criticised for its reliance on an ageing network of copper telephone wiring for its broadband infrastructure, and the slow pace at which its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) roll-out was taking place coupled with its near-non-existent fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) offerings. Under FTTC, the technology on which the company's standard Infinity broadband packages are based, the connection between the equipment cabinet and the household or business subscriber uses standard copper telephone wiring - introducing a bottleneck to performance not present in FTTP offerings that use a fibre connection for the entire distance.

BT claims there's still life in the copper last-mile network, though, and now has the evidence to back its claims up in the form of a successful field test of G.FAST technology coupled with fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) - a compromise between FTTC and FTTP that reduces the length of copper before the fibre network is reached. During these trials, the company claims to have successfully downloaded data at speeds of 786Mb/s and uploaded at speed of 231Mb/s - a combined total throughput of 1,017Mb/s - over 19m copper telephone wires, dropping to a still-impressive 696Mb/s down and 200Mb/s up when the length was extended to 66m.

'We see G.FAST as a very promising technology with significant potential – that’s why we’re putting some of our best minds on the case to assess it fully in a purpose-built facility,' claimed BT's managing director of research and innovation Tim Whitley, referring to the company's formation of a G.FAST research lab at its Adastral Park facility. 'BT has a long history of pushing the boundaries in telecommunications, from the earliest days of the electric telegraph to today’s global fibre networks, and it’s crucial that we stay ahead of the curve for the benefit of our customers and shareholders.'

BT's current FTTC offerings offer up to 80Mb/s downstream and 20Mb/s upstream, with the company promising to roll out a double-speed offering in the near future which uses enhancements including noise-cancellation vectoring to boost the speed possible. The company has not yet announced any plans to begin a large-scale FTTdp roll-out ahead of G.FAST introduction, however.
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