First G.Fast trial goes live in Huntingdon, with BT seeing how copper technology performs ahead of nationwide rollout
BT’s trial of G.Fast technology in Cambridgeshire has gone live, with 2,000 homes and businesses in Huntingdon able to access speeds of up to 330Mbps without the need to lay additional fibre.
The G.Fast standard uses existing copper cables to maintain speeds of up to 1Gbps as far as 400 metres from the cabinet, making it a far more cost effective technology to boost speeds than Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).
The trial is one of three pencilled in for the UK, with pilots in Gosforth in Newcastle and Swansea set to start next month, and will help BT determine the performance of the technology and usage demands from customers over the next six to nine months.
“Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future,” said Openreach CEO Joe Garner. “This is the largest trial of G.fast technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams.
“We conducted the world’s first G.fast trial in 2013, and our experts have been heavily involved in creating global industry standards for this technology. We’re now eager to support all our service providers in learning how customers enjoy the service.
“The people of Huntingdon will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of the UK over the coming years.”
If successful, BT could start rolling out G.Fast as early as 2016, with speeds of up to 500Mbps available to the majority of the population by the end of the decade.
Faster speeds will become possible as the technology becomes standardised and more advanced equipment becomes available. BT has also confirmed it is working on the creation of a ‘premium’ G.Fast service that could achieve the maximum theoretical speeds of 1Gbps.
BT has so far achieved speeds of up to 800Mbps at its R&D centre at Adastral Park R&D centre in Suffolk and says it can reach 700Mbps on a 66 metre long cable – the same maximum distance from an exchange as 80 percent of properties connected to the Openreach network.
However with the future of Openreach one of the subjects of Ofcom’s once-in-a-decade review of the UK communications market, BT has suggested the rollout depends on regulation being favourable to investment.
The formal separation of Openreach from BT is being considered by Ofcom – a move which would placate opponents – but the company says its investments in fibre have only been possible under the current structure.
The government has welcomed the launch of the trial, claiming it will help it achieve its ambition of being a world leader in broadband.
“We want to stay ahead of the competition and so it’s good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry,” said Culture Secretary John Whittingdale. “BT is harnessing its world-class technology and engineering expertise to help the UK lead the way on ultrafast broadband and remain a world leading digital economy.”
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