G.fast ONT available early next year says Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) says it will make a G.fast optical network terminal (ONT) available in the first quarter of 2015 (about the same time its newly announced TWDM-PON capability will hit the market; see "Alcatel-Lucent unveils TWDM-PON"). The systems house is touting gigabit-speed capabilities for the 7368 ISAM single-port G.fast ONT, but so far hasn’t quoted the distance at which it expects to support such speeds in typical copper networks.

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) says it will make a G.fast optical network terminal (ONT) available in the first quarter of 2015 (about the same time its newly announced TWDM-PON capability will hit the market; see "Alcatel-Lucent unveils TWDM-PON"). The systems house is touting gigabit-speed capabilities for the 7368 ISAM single-port G.fast ONT, but so far hasn’t quoted the distance at which it expects to support such speeds in typical copper networks.

G.fast is designed to provide "fiber-like" data rates, including 1 Gbps, over copper subscriber connections. While the ITU-T isn't expected to fully ratify its G.fast recommendations until the end of this year, G.fast chip sets have already been announced by both Broadcom and startup Sckipio Technologies (see "Broadcom debuts end-to-end G.fast offering" and "G.fast chipsets from Sckipio Technologies debut").

Alcatel-Lucent is among the first systems houses to announce an availability date for a product such as the 7368 ISAM ONT. G.fast networks are expected to leverage an architecture called fiber to the distribution point (FTTdp). The FTTdp network would see fiber-based PON or point-to-point links feed nodes such as the 7368 ISAM G.fast ONT that would be positioned no more than 500 m from the subscriber. Consensus appears to be building that G.fast doesn't provide significant benefits versus VDSL2 with vectoring at copper reaches greater than 250 m, however, so many applications likely won’t see copper runs greater than that distance.

The trick will be at what reach G.fast will support 1-Gbps downstream rates. The G.fast speed estimates typically quoted are an aggregation of both downstream and upstream capacity. Therefore, a G.fast offering will have to provide capacity greater than 1 Gbps to support a downstream rate of 1 Gbps. The ITU-T recommendations about how to do this are expected to give technology vendors significant leeway as they shoot for this target. For example, Alcatel-Lucent says it has been able to support symmetrical 1-Gbps transmission at 70 m in laboratory demonstrations of a technology it calls XG-FAST.

Alcatel-Lucent says it also has achieved greater than a gigabit via G.fast in a trial with Telekom Austria's A1 subsidiary (see "First G.fast customer connected by Telekom Austria's A1 as part of trial"). This demonstration showed support of 1.1 Gbps, the company asserts. The trial with A1 is one of 12 Alcatel-Lucent has conducted with various operators, including BT and Orange. BT has touted the results of such trials without naming Alcatel-Lucent as a technology supplier (see "BT says trials prove gigabit potential of G.fast technology").

While the 7368 ISAM is a single-port node, Alcatel-Lucent says the customer trials have used multi-port technology. So it seems likely a multi-port ONT is on the way.

A1 has said it expects to roll out G.fast in its network as early as 2016, particularly for fiber to the building (FTTB) applications. "We want to provide our customers with the best possible ultra-broadband speeds at home. We were the first to trial G.fast using vectoring technology with Alcatel-Lucent a little over a year ago and we are pleased to take the lead with them again by demonstrating the first customer connection using G.fast," said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of A1 and Telekom Austria Group, as part of the 7368 ISAM ONT announcement.

G.fast is expected to prove popular as a way for carriers to compete with fiber to the home (FTTH) and DOCSIS 3.1 initiatives, as well as to provide high-speed broadband to users that can’t be reached with fiber.

"In order to meet their customers’ demands and regulatory objectives for high-speed broadband services, operators are increasingly turning to fiber-to-the-distribution point technologies. With its ability to provide fiber-like speeds without the time, cost, and disruption associated with full fiber-to-the-home deployments, G.fast will have a significant role to play in operators' ultra-broadband strategies," predicts Teresa Mastrangelo, founder of analyst firm Broadbandtrends.

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

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