BT plans to trial G.Fast technology in two markets within its footprint in summer 2015. 4000 homes and businesses in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle will pilot the program. The telco plans to deliver speeds of up to 200Mbps by 2020, and 500Mbps by 2025.
Taking the fiber from the street into the home is often the most expensive element in the installation of FTTH access. This is due to natural resistance to a full fiber-to-the-home installation, which can involve trenching of the last mile and the drilling of holes into the walls of homes. This last mile construction is very expensive and can take years to realize a full return on investment. Additionally, this is very unsuitable to many consumers who would rather not see their lawn or garden dug up to lay fiber optic cable. The utilization of G.Fast technology can offer much higher broadband speeds without the need to replace the legacy copper with fiber-optic cabling.
While fiber to the home is still the ultimate future-proof solution, G.Fast has the potential to offer telcos the ability to offer high bandwidth speeds without disruption to the consumer’s household. It also allows telcos the ability to push their fiber footprint further into their network incrementally, managing the upfront capital expenditure for fiber deployments. Once the fiber reaches the cabinets closest to the home, the customer can then decide whether they want to upgrade to a G.Fast solution or a true fiber-to-the-home product.
G.Fast also allows for the possibility of customer self-installation, in which the customer signs up for high bandwidth G.Fast service, and has a G.Fast enabled gateway shipped to the household, eliminating the need for a truck roll and expensive installation of FTTH access. This lowering of capex will allow the telcos to free up revenues for pushing fiber installations deeper into their footprint, as well as offering more advanced broadband CPE that allows them to be a partner in the home networks of their customer.
BT will experiment with the topography in its pilots, deploying G.Fast from various endpoints to determine efficiencies in its network. It is likely that the object to discover is whether or not the company’s network is configured for fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) or fiber-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp). This is the main question at hand: which works more effectively, both in terms of cost and bandwidth throughput?
BT’s announcement to invest into G.Fast technology comes on the heels of Intel’s acquisition of Lantiq, a company currently investing heavily into G.Fast technology, and also a company whose technology is featured within BT’s Home Hub CPE. BT released the Home Hub 5 in late 2013, a gateway capable of operating at every point within BT’s network, supporting the Infinity fiber-to-the-cab service as well as VDSL 2 and ADSL.