G.Fast internet – fibre speeds over copper lines?

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 Utilisation of older copper infrastructure could see high speed internet being delivered with a better consumer experience

A new enhancement to broadband technology could see older, copper telephone wires being used to deploy internet access with speeds of up to 800Mbps.

G.Fast is in the final stages of standards being set for the technology and it is possible the first commercially-available services could be in place in Europe next year. Its proponents claim it will allow operators to provide higher-speed broadband at lower cost.

“It’s being driven by business decisions, the need to deliver higher speeds but deliver it cost effectively,” said Broadband Forum chief executive officer Robin Mersh.

The Forum is involved in setting standards and best practice for the broadband industry and it believes that a simpler approach to broadband is required. The technology could also help with the UK government’s desire to have most homes connected to superfast broadband.

While VDSL2 technology, more commonly known as fibre optic, offers higher speeds, the installation process is much more expensive, labour intensive and annoying to the consumer. Older ADSL2 technology utilised copper phone wires already in the home and were installed by the user.

“It [VDSL2] was a lot more complex to deliver. With G.Fast we expect it to be going back to that more simple approach with much higher speeds,” explains Mersh.

“When people are having fibre deployed to the home, sometimes they react badly to having to have the line reinstalled and someone drilling holes in their wall.So even if there is no cost factor for the telcos, the hassle factor cannot be underestimated. Being able to say ‘we’ll just send you the box and some simple instructions’ – there’s a lot of value to that.” 

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