The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has awarded final approval to G.Fast, a technological standard that will allow broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabyte per second (the equivalent of 1000 Mbps) to be delivered across existing telephone wires.
G.Fast utilises both DSL and Fibre-Optic technology, relying on fibre to reach local cabinets, and traditional copper wire for the rest of the journey to homes and business premises.
The tech was developed partially in response to Telecoms companies’ concerns over the expense and inconvenience of providing ‘true’ Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband, which would require a massive overhaul to existing infrastructure and huge labour costs as a result.
One downside to G.Fast is that it currently requires the premises to be within a maximum of 400 metres of a distribution point (like your local cabinet) in order for anything like these super high speeds to be achieved.
To reach full potential, the distance will need to be even shorter, perhaps as little as 25-40 metres.
It’s also worth mentioning that the promoted ‘speeds of up to 1 GB’ refer to combined download and upload speeds.
However for those within the operating distance, tests have suggested that 500 Mbps download and 200 Mbps upload speeds would not be unrealistic.
BT has recently been testing a fibre-copper service that achieves nearly 700 Mbps download speeds over a distance of 66 metres from the cabinet. ITU tests reveal that at 250 metres, G.Fast operates at around 150 Mbps.
A spokesperson for the ITU said ‘within 400 metres of a distribution point, G.Fast provides fibre-like speeds matched with the customer self-installation of DSL, resulting in cost savings for service providers and improved customer experience’.
Outside the 400 metre distance, it may well be that FTTP is still the more cost-effective solution for those seeking an ultra-fast broadband connection.
A recent survey on Cable.co.uk has revealed that more than 80% of respondents believe 1Gbps broadband to be unnecessary for the average British household at present.
66% gave an answer of between 8Mbps and 150 Mbps as being the minimum necessary, while just under 15% thought that 1GB speeds were vital. Minimum speeds of between 20 and 50 Mbps proved the most popular answer, being chosen by 30 % of respondents.
Warwick-based broadband specialist Ben King believes this will change in the future. He stated ‘I think absolutely in 20 years time it’ll be fibre everywhere. You’ll have gigabit connection coming out of your wall. That’s definitely where the game will end up’.
As for now, the need may be limited, but it still exists. Technology-orientated businesses, HD enthusiasts and hardcore online gamers represent a small but committed segment of the telecoms industry consumer base.
G.Fast technology is supposed to complement bandwidth-greedy services such as ultra HD streaming of films, television and games in 4k or 8k resolutions, HD video communications, and more advanced cloud-based storage solutions.