news Veteran telecommunications analyst has described the G.Fast technology which the NBN company plans to deploy into its network from 2017 as “more hype than reality”, questioning whether it will actually be able to deliver on its close to a gigabit speed promises.
Last week the NBN company attended the Broadband World Forum in London. At the event, the company’s chief architect Tony Cross revealed that the company had been trialling the G.Fast standard at an office block in Melbourne. In the trial, the NBN company was able to achieve speeds of 600Mbps on a 100m stretch of copper than was more than 20 years old.
The company has also trialled G.Fast in its National Test Facility in Melbourne, achieving speeds of nearly 970Mbps over a 20m copper cable.
The G.Fast standard effectively gives telcos such as the NBN company who are upgrading existing copper networks a great deal of flexibility in terms of their infrastructure. Cross wrote in a blog post that the company could deploy G.Fast in apartment buildings simply by installing new equipment in their basement, or deploy it to a group of houses via a Fibre to the Distribution Point model, where fibre is extended further into the copper network.
“G.Fast really allows us to remove the need to actually enter premises to deliver ultra-fast speeds,” Cross wrote. The next step for the NBN company will be to trial G.Fast with retail ISPs, possibly looking to a launch date of around 2017 for the technology in the wild.
The technology is also being trialled by telcos such as BT in the UK, which already have widespread Fibre to the Node networks and are looking to upgrade those networks further. BT has delivered speeds of up to 1Gbps using the G.Fast standard.
However, in a post on his own blog this week, Paul Budde — one of Australia’s most senior telecommunications analysts — poured cold water over the NBN company’s plans.
Budde pointed out that G.Fast used a much larger frequency range of signal processing bandwidth than other copper-based broadband technologies, over a much shorter copper length. Some of that frequency range would overlap those used by commercial VDSL (which the NBN company is using for its Fibre to the Node network), Budde wrote, so running both technologies together caused interference.
Another issue, he wrote, was the extra power supply that was needed for the extra network nodes that would need to be deployed for G.Fast to work.
Budde’s view is that G.Fast is effectively “another rollout” on top of the existing rollouts that the NBN company has already committed to — with all the associated costs and time required. In this context, it is his view that it may be worth proceeding with the original Fibre to the Premises model instead, which offers a much less complex model, without the compromises involved in a broadband rollout based partially on copper.
“… the hardware industry, sensing the desperation of the telcos’ need to start improving their broadband networks, are talking up the G.Fast technology. However at this stage – and at least in a commercial sense – that technology is still more hype than reality,” Budde wrote.
What is my own opinion on G.Fast? I’m currently researching the situation and hope to provide an informed view at some point. It’s a relatively new standard, and the field trials are also new — so I am seeking to weigh the evidence before I come down on one side or the other on this one.
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