BT Openreach Picks G.Fast Suppliers As Trials Reach London

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BT reveals 12 more G.Fast trials and confirms Huawei and Nokia as equipment suppliers as Openreach continues ultrafast broadband push

BT Openreach will hold G.Fast trials in 12 more locations across the UK, including two in London, and has picked Huawei and Nokia as the two equipment suppliers for the nationwide deployment of the technology.

The company has promised to deliver G.Fast, which offers faster speeds over a copper connection, to ten million homes and businesses by the end of 2020 and to the ‘majority’ of the UK by 2025.

New equipment

BTSo far, three trials have been held in Huntingdon, Gosforth and Swansea, while another two are planned for Gillingham, Kent and Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire, serving an additional 25,000 premises.

While the first three pilots used pre-production equipment, the latter two will test out the technology earmarked for the commercial launch. This includes switches, modems and cabinet sidepods.

“Huawei’s investment and innovation in G.fast will help Openreach to deploy ultrafast broadband from the street cabinet instead of the distribution point, making the business case viable for a large scale rollout and accelerating the rollout speed,” claimed Jeff Wang, president of Huawei Access network.

“Openreach’s selection of Nokia is a testament to excellent performance in the trials underlined by our world class vectoring capability,” added Cormac Whelan, Nokia UK and Ireland CEO.

More trials

Twelve other trials will start in January, bringing G.Fast coverage to 140,000 properties by the end of March. Bolton, Cheltenham, Derby, Luton, Rusholme (Manchester), S Austell, Swindon and Sheffield are the locations in London, while Donaldson and Langside (Glasgow) have been selected for Scotland.

Balham in South London and Upton Park have also been chosen, bringing G.Fast to the capital for the first time.

Two tiers will be available for customers at launch, up to 160Mbps and up to 330Mbps, with pricing revealed in the near future

G.Fast defence

Openreach CEO Clive Selley said the first trials had resulted in “positive” feedback from wholesale partners and said he was optimistic about the future of the project.

Clive Selley BT Openreach cEO“G.Fast is a large investment and the operation is a very large footprint,” he replied when asked by TechWeekEurope about what the new pilots would achieve.

“While the three trials thus far have given great results, I want one last phase of piloting where the blueprint is much bigger and I’m testing on a much greater variety of cabinet types and copper types.

“It’s also piloting on production equipment from the first of the two vendors. Trials so far have been pre-production equipment.”

Throughout the course if its fibre rollout, BT has received criticism for its decision not to use fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology. For its superfast broadband service, it chose fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) because it believed this would be cheaper and quicker, and again it is using G.Fast for the majority of its ultrafast rollout.

BT will deliver FTTP to two million properties, mainly businesses, apartments and new builds, by 2020 and the company already covers 330,000 premises. But Selley said the use of G.Fast was essential to ensure ultrafast provision was cost effective and rapid.

“As a technologist, we need to get the cost of deployment down,” he said. “I’m not stepping back on the G.Fast element because that’s still the quickest way of rolling out UFBB to as many people as possible.”

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