Taiwanese incumbent Chunghwa Telecom officially launched the world’s first commercial ultra-fast broadband service using G.Fast technology on 14th September. In collaboration with IP infrastructure specialist Alcatel-Lucent, Chunghwa launched the service as part of its selection of high speed services with a downstream/upstream speed of 300/100 Mbps and costing about 1,700 Yuan per month (£175 or USD 266).
G.Fast technology works on the principle of shortening the copper loop to as much as 200 meters from the distribution point (fibre-to-the distribution point or FTTdp). This eliminates the requirement for internal building rewiring since existing internal copper wire is used. Using G.Fast, speeds as high as 1 Gbps can be attained in laboratory tests – reduced to around 300 – 500 Mbps in typical real life situations.
Chunghwa is currently in the process of deploying ultrafast broadband services using both G.Fast and FTTP technologies. It is hoped that this deployment will satisfy the growing demand for 4KTV and HD video streaming services and Chunghwa is planning to offer G.Fast services to 8.4 million homes in Taiwan by Q4 2015. According to IHS Technology total broadband household penetration stood at 70.2% at end 2014, and FTTP connections represented 54% of all broadband connections in Taiwan.
Following its standardization in December 2014 by the ITU, G.Fast has been hailed as the next ‘interim’ technology bridging the gap between ADSL and FTTP. However, this is the first time that G.Fast has been used to support a commercially available ultrafast broadband service. G.Fast has had a lot of publicity in recent months, largely due to high profile trials conducted by Swisscom in Switzerland (May 2015) and BT in the UK (August 2015), but to date neither has launched a commercially available service which uses G.Fast technology as yet.
This launch is significant because it shows that G.Fast is another possible option for telcos looking for a cost effective, rapid method for the deployment of ultrafast broadband services. In a recent briefing this month, UK incumbent BT announced that it will be using G.Fast together with FTTP for the expansion of ultrafast broadband services to 10 million UK homes by 2020. In October 2014, Telekom Austria completed a G.Fast trail also in collaboration with Alcatel Lucent and is expected to launch commercial operations in 2016.
In fact, Telekom Austria highlights one of the main advantages of using G.Fast – the fact that it does not require extensive internal building work. As a result, many telcos welcome this new technology because it sits comfortably alongside FTTP and can be used to connect residents in older buildings, while FTTP can be used for new builds.