Nbn co finally decides to roll out G.fast broadband next year

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Australia’s nbn co has announced that it will add G.fast to its access tech portfolio next year to enable gigabit broadband connections over existing copper lines.

Nbn co plans to deploy G.fast to homes where the company’s FTTx rollouts have only made it as far as the building or the curb.

Nbn co’s existing fixed-broadband suppliers – Nokia, Adtran and Netcomm Wireless – will supply the G.fast gear.

The attraction of G.fast is obvious – it not only enables nbn co to make use of existing copper rather than roll out direct fiber connections to every single home, but also delivers throughput speeds comparable with an FTTH connection, said nbn chief strategy officer JB Rousselot in a statement.

“Adding G.fast to the toolkit for the FTTC and FTTB networks will allow us to deliver ultra-fast services faster and more cost effectively than if we had to deliver them on a full Fibre-to-the-Premises connection,” Rousselot said.

Nbn co has been talking about G.fast for some time as an important component of its FttDP (fiber to the distribution point) strategy. It trialed G.fast technology with Nokia two years ago, yielding downlink speeds close to 600 Mbps on a 20 year-old stretch of 100-meter copper. A subsequent lab trial of Nokia Bell Labs’ XG-FAST (an extension of Nokia’s G.fast solution) registered speeds of 8 Gbps.

But last year the company launched its FttDP rollout with VDSL instead of G.fast.

VDSL typically tops out at around 100 Mbps. G.fast gets more juice out of copper by using higher frequencies of 106 MHz or 212 MHz. (VDSL uses just 17 MHz.)

That said, G.fast has been slow to take off in general – only a handful of operators worldwide have commercially launched G.fast (including Chunghwa Telecom and Swisscom), while high-profile adopters like BT are stuck in the pilot stage. While G.fast works wonders in a lab, implementing it on a real-world network presents numerous engineering challenges.

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