The G.fast trial in Huntingdon is underway and Openreach has declared the first customers are connected, though with a much smaller scale than the 200 and 300 Mbps trials from Virgin Media earlier in 2015 we are still awaiting the first speed test results from the area.
"Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future. This is the largest trial of G.fast technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams.
We conducted the world’s first G.fast trial in 2013, and our experts have been heavily involved in creating global industry standards for this technology. We're now eager to support all our service providers in learning how customers enjoy the service.
The people of Huntingdon will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of the UK over the coming years."Joe Garner, CEO Openreach
The service that forms the G.fast trial is configured to deliver 330 Mbps download speeds, which matches the current top tier speed sold via native Openreach GEA-FTTP which will make it easier for the eight trial providers to deal with.
We know that many will question whether G.fast is a technological dead end and that it would be cheaper to deliver FTTH for many millions and while some will say Openreach will never deliver FTTH as it wants to sweat its copper network, part of the current trial is to take lessons learnt from the fibre side of the G.fast trial and apply them to a FoD2 product that will be trialled for a smaller set of premises. Fingers crossed this may lead to lower prices on a FoD2 service and quicker install times.
With regards to the economics of G.fast versus FTTH we hope that Openreach will consider a demand led scheme with people paying a deposit that guarantees them G.fast or if enough deposits are placed then rather than install a G.fast node a full FTTH deployment may go ahead.
The trials are set to run for six to nine months, and if all goes well roll-out should start in 2016/2017 with the ambition to have it available to millions of homes by 2020 and if lab work delivered improved versions further speed upgrades to 500 Mbps may appear.
The race towards who will be the ultrafast king of the United Kingdom is now well underway and the race is very much on with the nascent FTTH industry to see who can get coverage to a level to compete and whether the average consumer cares about the delivery medium. Both the Virgin Media speed upgrades and Openreach G.fast trials have the advantage that no work is needed for the final run into someones home, whereas the TalkTalk ambition for 10 million FTTH homes may be easy to achieve with micro trenching down a street but the final run across peoples drives and gardens could prove the stumbling block.
In case you are not up to speed on what G.fast means Openreach has a new ultrafast micro-site that will also give any detail on the FoD2 which is going to test a 1 Gbps deployment and covers both Huntingdon and Gosforth.