Openreach, BT's local network business is to roll out an ultrafast broadband service on its current copper network following key work with EIT Digital. The G.fast powered service could deliver download speeds over 10 times faster than the current UK average to 10 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.
G.fast marks a step-change in fast access for broadband subscribers. The technology, which makes use of existing fibre and copper infrastructure, was transformed from research to innovation, in partnership with BT, as part of an EIT Digital innovation activity called "Backhaul solutions for heterogeneous networks".
Henrik Abramowicz, Digital Infrastructure Action Line leader at EIT Digital explained:
"The whole idea behind the technology was to build on existing infrastructure by applying more sophisticated modulation thanks to more powerful and sophisticated processors. The result is much faster speeds than traditional ADSL or VDSL systems but without having to dig up and replace all of the existing infrastructure."
Traffic on UK networks is expected to grow exponentially from the introduction of 5G mobile networks and demand for high bandwidth video streaming services. Openreach and other network operators around the world saw G.fast as an answer to the challenge on how to upgrade their existing networks in the quickest possible way for customers to benefit. The result is allowing Openreach to use their existing assets whilst investing in new infrastructure and enhancing its customers' experience thanks to faster, more stable broadband services. Openreach expects to roll out G.fast to 10 million premises by the end of 2020.
BT's Head of Strategic Programmes, Paul Jenkins said:
"Mobile devices, like smart phones, consume ten times more data over the fixed network and WiFi than they do over mobile, and customer requirements have moved away from voice calls to include diverse types of communication, such as interactive games and film downloads. That's why it is important that the fixed network keeps ahead of customer demand. Working with partners in EIT Digital helped us move from a technology specification developed in several research projects, into agreed standards which allow equipment to be built and supplied and in turn improve the services we can deliver."
EIT Digital London Node director, Dennis Moynihan said:
"We're really excited about Openreach's plans to implement G.fast commercially. Their customers should be excited too as they will reap the benefits of the ultra-fast technology which will really improve download speeds across a range of applications and services. G.fast is a wonderful example of the many tangible benefits our partners gain by participating in our innovation activities and a great demonstration of the kind of positive societal impact we think digital innovation can bring about."