BT targets G.fast for 500 Mbps

BT says it will roll out G.fast over its national fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure with the goal of supporting up to 500 Mbps downstream "to most of the UK" within a decade.

BT says it will roll out G.fast over its national fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure with the goal of supporting up to 500 Mbps downstream "to most of the UK" within a decade.

A BT press release describing comments from CEO Gavin Patterson indicates the UK incumbent carrier will begin its G.fast journey with a pair of pilot deployments this summer in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle. The trials will see approximately 4,000 homes and businesses participate, with the aim of exploring what kind of data rates BT can provide using different deployment scenarios.

However, based on its own tests (see "BT says trials prove gigabit potential of G.fast technology") Patterson and BT engineers appear confident that they can use G.fast to offer "a few hundred megabits" initially, and up to 500 Mbps within 10 years. Assuming the pilots conclude successfully, BT plans to begin deploying G.fast in 2016/17 and use it to offer those initial speeds "to millions of homes and businesses" by 2020.

"We believe G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds and we are prepared to upgrade large parts of our network should the pilots prove successful," said Patterson via the release. "That upgrade will depend, however, on there continuing to be a stable regulatory environment that supports investment."

BT is among the first carriers to detail its G.fast deployment plans (see also "First G.fast customer connected by Telekom Austria's A1 as part of trial"). It thus offers an initial indication of how a major roll out might progress. With G.fast touted as capable of supporting 1-Gbps broadband access networks, BT's plans either reflect conservatism or the belief that those 1-Gbps speeds may only be possible within limited scenarios in the next 10 years. The BT release notes that the carrier's jump to a potential 500 Mbps will happen "as further industry standards are secured and new kit is developed."

The press release indicates that BT does plan to offer what was described as "a premium fibre broadband service" of 1 Gbps. While the phrasing might indicate that fiber to the home (FTTH) may be required for this service, BT often refers to its FTTC infrastructure as part of its fiber-optic broadband network. The use of G.fast to support 1 Gbps therefore cannot be discounted; the company has stated the previously mentioned trials indicated 1 Gbps via G.fast is possible. No target date for the 1-Gbps offering was revealed.

For more information on FTTx equipment and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer's Guide.

More in FTTN/C