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Turning copper into fibre: telcos slake their fibre ambition on G.fast

ad hoc study
Published: 2015-08-13

The advent of G.fast that could reach up to 1 Gbit/s speed (theoretical speed achieved in lab trials) have rekindled carriers’ FTTH-like bandwidth hopes.

Competition threats, mainly from cable operators especially in the wake of the DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts (speed in lab trials: up to 4-5 Gbit/s download and up to 2 Gbit/s upload), have further catalysed the need for copper-based carriers to level the high-speed broadband playing field. But G.fast is not a magic wand that could instantly transform copper to fibre-like speed since bandwidth is highly dependent on copper length – i.e. the shorter the last mile copper, the higher the speed that could be realised and G.fast seems to work best (i.e. maximum speed reached, 500 Mbit/s – 1 Gbit/s) with copper lines below 100 metres. Thus, there is still a significant amount of capital investments involved begging the question whether it makes sense for carriers to take the G.fast route or go all the way with fibre.

For telcos such as Telekom Austria, FTTB+G.fast (i.e. fibre until building premises and G.fast rolled out in indoor cabling) is an interim solution, particularly for old buildings where rewiring might not be technically possible yet.

For markets where competition against cable operators is high, G.fast is seen as a quick and intermediate solution to level the playing field – for instance, Swisscom is planning to deploy FTTS+G.fast (i.e. fibre to the street cabinet/manhole then the rest is copper where G.fast will be applied) while BT is planning to rollout FTTdp+G.fast (fibre until the manholes, footway or telegraph).

Recently, Orange Poland has announced a G.fast pilot project before end-2015 after a successful lab trial.

Published: 2015-08-13





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