G.fast edging closer to being just another broadband product
Openreach is at the beginning of a journey to 12 million premises with ultrafast broadband available to them, 10 million via G.fast pods and another 2 million with full fibre (FTTP, 1 million are likely to be business premises).
G.fast has had it seems lots of trials and pilots but the scale is starting to ramp up and in a series of press releases BT Group and Openreach has given some rough details for where G.fast will be appearing next. So for example we are expecting to see G.fast appear in parts of Sighthill, Gorgie, Corstorphine, Murrayfield, Fountainbridge, Craiglockhart, the Meadows and Morningside in Edinburgh and parts of Linn and Rutherglen in Glasgow with that giving Scotland some 16,900 premises of coverage. The various pilot areas are already said to cover some 100,000 premises.
The 20 main pilot locations across the UK are:
- Bolton, Greater Manchester
- Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire
- Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
- Derby, Derbyshire
- Donaldson, Edinburgh
- Gillingham, Kent
- Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
- Langside, Glasgow
- Luton, Bedfordshire
- Newbury, Berkshire
- Newcastle upon Tyne
- Newmarket, Suffolk
- Rusholme, Manchester
- St. Austell, Cornwall
- South Clapham, Balham and Upton Park, London
- Swansea, Wales
- Swindon, Wiltshire
- Sheffield, South Yorkshire
G.fast is designed to allow those within a few hundred metres of their cabinet to get ultrafast speeds between 100 Mbps and 500 Mbps and initially two product speeds are likely to be sold up to 160 Mbps and up to 330 Mbps. Indicative wholesale pricing is available, but with the impact a user can have on peak bandwidth ulitisation we may see retail pricing that is somewhat different once the service fully launches.
We have been seeing people testing with G.fast and generally it does seem to do what it says on the tin and we may be able to share some average speeds for G.fast in a month or two. We know of 25 cabinets where G.fast is currently available and these are (NOTE: some cabinets may not offer full coverage due to different delivery methods from early trials or distance from cabinet):
Update Saturday 3rd June: The footprint that we know about is growing, when we published on the 1st we knew of 25 pods attached to cabinets and open for orders, this has now grown to 105, so a big thanks to all those letting us know about pods appearing. Once you allow for the range drop off this means we know of a G.fast footprint of some 30,683 premises, and if the pattern continues the suggestion is that to cover 100,000 premises as Openreach is reporting as the current footprint there are maybe another 200 pods out there.
- Allhallows cabinet 2 and 3
- Bolton cabinets 11, 39, 49, 51, 60 and 97
- Cambridge Central cabinets 24, 35, 37, 38, 50, 59, 88 and 103
- Cambridge Science Park cabinets 21 and 22
- Cherry Hinton cabinets 7, 14, 19, 25, 29, 30, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 42
- Cliffe cabinet 6
- Edinburgh Donaldson cabinet 13 and 46
- Gillingham cabinets 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 34, 36, 47, 49 and 50
- Gosforth cabinet 30, 42 and 42
- Huntingdon cabinet 61
- Hoo cabinets 2, 3 and 6
- Luton cabinet 91
- Medway cabinet 4, 5, 12, 14, 15, 19, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 34, 37, 41, 48, 54, 55, 56, 59, 63, 69, 74, 87, 95
- Strood cabinet 5, 7, 13, 14, 28 and 33
- St Austell cabinets 5 and 11
- Swansea Central cabinet 64
Our checkers know about G.fast with it mentioned explicitly on our speeds and coverage site but on the main site checker as the products are not live, i.e. nothing to appear in listings it only shows up as faster speeds than would normally be expected from FTTC.
Our cabinet list is not definitive as our core focus is on tracking the superfast roll-outs, so if your is missing please do run a speed test from your G.fast connection or drop us a message to tell us your cabinet has one of the new pods attached.
Openreach is often criticised for rolling out G.fast since those who can get it already have VDSL2 at reasonable speeds already available, but with Ofcom planning to slash the revenue that is generated from VDSL2 (specifically the 40/10 product) this is forcing the hand of Openreach i.e. to make money and lever the benefits from the fibre and power that was installed for VDSL2 the faster G.fast services are needed may help to keep the return on investment on track. The 2 million FTTP premises in the ultrafast roll-outs are a slightly different matter as we can see many exchange only lines in city centres where FTTP is now planned, but as with Virgin Media and CityFibre roll-outs we are waiting for the complaints about roadworks, since while Openreach has duct access in many locations, pavement chambers may need expanding or blockages need clearing.
In terms of market competition the speeds will take Openreach and its customers head to head with Virgin Media, but once DOCSIS 3.1 is properly launched they should be able to easily offer even higher speeds, the big question mark is what will the relative performance of the two competing platforms be. The congestion and other issues at Virgin Media is already causing those where performance is important e.g. gamers and twitch broadcasters to switch to services that have lower headline speeds but are much more consistent in terms of latency and the actual speed they get at peak times.