news NBN Co is to launch lab trials of a new broadband technology called XG.FAST, which the company said has already delivered test speeds in Europe of over 5Gbps on a pair of copper lines.
While speeds in trials are not necessarily what will be experienced by end users if the technology is eventually rolled out, NBN said XG.FAST could offer a “much faster and cost effective” way to deliver multi-gigabit speeds without having to use fibre to the premises (FTTP).
Writing on the NBN Co blog, NBN’s CTO Dennis Steiger said it will be “only the third operator in the world” to trial XG.FAST, with BT in the UK being the first operator globally to test the tech last October – reaching 5.6Gbps over 35 metres of copper in laboratory trials.
Deutsche Telekom (DT) also undertook trials in February 2016 that hit 8Gbps over 50 metres of copper in the lab.
Both of those tests used technology from Nokia, as will NBN Co in its coming trials.
XG.FAST will be put through trials “over the coming weeks” to see how it works over a range of different types of copper cable in order to understand how it is likely to work in the field.
NBN Co expects to observe varying speeds during the lab trial, dependent on the type of cable being used.
Despite the promise of the technology, XG.FAST will not be ready for commercial use on the national broadband network for several years, the operator said.
Steiger stressed that, in order to deploy the new technology, it would need to extend fibre “deeper into the network” and move to a fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdP) architecture with XG.FAST used only in the last “30-100 metres or so” of copper into premises.
“Our primary goal is to continue with our current deployment of the FTTN/B network in order to get Australians on board the NBN network as fast as possible, but once that is completed we then have the potential to look at how we might push fibre deeper via FTTdP in order to deliver ultra-fast speeds via XG.FAST,” he said.
However, XG.FAST could give NBN Co the ability to eventually deliver multi-gigabit wholesale speeds across its fibre, co-axial and copper lines that run into end-user premises.
The CTO also warned that arrival of XG.FAST does not mean it will immediately supersede its predecessor, G.Fast.
“That is absolutely not the case and if you look around the world right now you will see a whole bunch of operators still gearing up to launch G.Fast,” Steiger said.
NBN Co, which conducted its first G.Fast trial last October, is planning further field trials later this year and remains “very interested” in deploying G.Fast on its network, he added.
Image credit: NBN company