Broadband News

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.

Comments

Yawn. Can I have something that gets me off the "upto 8Mb" please? never mind 330Mb, 33Mb would be nice.

This is investment where it's not needed.

  • jimwillsher
  • 6 months ago

It is nice to see improvements to broadband infrastructure - but I just wish there would be more effort into improving broadband for EO lines, especially those where 20CN ADSL Max is the only choice.

  • sheephouse
  • 6 months ago

Commercial investments go where they might have a chance of making a return or they simply won't happen. Given Ofcom are intent on minimising the return OR make on its commercial GEA-FTTC investment, there isn't going to be money to cross-subsidise areas which are not financially feasible.

If the government and Ofcom want those covered, they are going to have to produce a different financial model as their current approach works against it.

  • TheEulerID
  • 6 months ago

I agree that commercial investments go where they will make the best return. I also agree that the current Ofcom approach is actually delaying improvements to poor broadband, while ensuring it is much more expensive than the faster broadband enjoyed by others.

  • sheephouse
  • 6 months ago

@jimwillsher, no doubt you live somewhere where it do not bay BT to update, so the tax payer will pay for the update and BT will get the credit and the profits.

Been happening around here with this so called Fastershire, which is great for people who lives in places where BT will never put fibre, but I wish they would stop taking the credit and I think BT broadband should be banned for a certain amount of time of marketing where these tax paid cabinets are put.

I hope they get you fibre soon.

  • zyborg47
  • 6 months ago

Most of the good BT fibre is actually used by SKY!! have a look on their site... :)

  • comnut
  • 6 months ago

@zborg47

Tell me, how is banning BT Retail from using network infrastructure subsidised by state intervention compatible with functional separation or Openreach and its accounts and the equivalence of input principle? OR investment has nothing to do with BT Retail and will have even less in the future. (Also, the other major ISPs don't even support GEA-FTTP).

In any event, on the same principle, then if BT Retail was banned from using BDUK cabinets for some time, wouldn't BT Retail be allowed a monopoly of commercially funded cabinets (including g.fast) for the same length of time?

  • TheEulerID
  • 6 months ago

@zyborg47

The initial investment is put in by the tax payer yes, but if the service receives a certain amount of uptake (indicating it was actually financially viable) then the money is paid back. Because of this it's in our best interest to let BT market it and take up as many customers as they want!

  • matthewsteeples
  • 6 months ago

Yes we're still an "up to 8 Mb" exchange (Market 1), and *every* line is EO, there are no cabinets (exchange ESESS). Worse still, the 50 pair copper travels on top of the grass verge, weaving its way around trees. So the chances of us getting better broadband are nil.

Luckily I can get 4G from EE, but it costs me £61/month for 120GB, whereas most fibre-enabled places can get 1TB of usage at fast speeds for half that cost.

We're seriously thinking of moving house.

  • jimwillsher
  • 6 months ago

@sheephouse we're in the same boat; 20CN and EO. Frustrating.

  • jimwillsher
  • 6 months ago

@jimwillsher

According to Digital Scotland that exchange area is planned for July-Dec 2018.

  • cymru123
  • 6 months ago

@jimwilsher - I'm in the Fastershire area too, though I think the name is misleading. I've been waiting over 3 years to be told whether or not my area might be included in their plans (for rollout by end 2020). If I'd been told 3 years ago that there were no plans I'd have fast broadband by no. Because we *might* be included in their plans we can't progress alternatives.

  • sheephouse
  • 6 months ago

When I look at where the money gets spent on introducing new products to the market, around my area (Berkshire) seems alot of the money thats recieved is put in areas where its council housing or in the sticks both of which would have a much longer ROI period than say around the area I live in where the uptake of the newest service would be high, example Hyperoptic+Gigaclear rolling out 1Gb locally, why not where I live one of the largest housing estates in europe,oh I forgot about the 'agreement' with BT...http://www.superfastberkshire.org.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=40750&p=0 for TVOD & skype?!

  • LudaLuke
  • 6 months ago

Gigaclear concentrates on rural areas, or put another way where the majority of work is soft dig, rather than pavement and roads.

Hyperoptic concentrate on apartment buildings.

So for classic suburb housing estates that are already built they have little interest, and firms like IFNL only want to be involved during the build phase.

CityFibre might if they expand outside York consider high density estates but generally they want lots of business in area too. Virgin Media via Project Lightning may expand too.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
As Andrews staff has located more GFast units today I am more convinced that Openreach will use just in time method and will open up more Cabs / GFast post codes on the ordering demand on the above list so to keep in the provision window this will give them full control.

  • Blackmamba
  • 6 months ago

@Blackmamba Are you suggesting that they may on checkers say G.fast is available and only install the pod if someone places an order?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

Hi Andrews Staff.
If Openreach has the construction Staff available they could open up the Post Codes that are in the range ( 250 metres) radius from the FTTC and still get in the provision window (14 days) if managed correctly thus spending money and getting a quick return on the first order. I would think the Data demand on each FTTC is not the same so the post codes would have to be opened gradually so to get in the 14 Day window.

  • Blackmamba
  • 6 months ago

atleast it's getting closer to some - not all of us will be as lucky! :(

  • ZenUser27
  • 6 months ago

How is any of this going to place in line with our friends in Europe? I am paying £48 per month for 5OMbps down 20Mbps up, in the Netherlands I would pay the same for 1000Mbps down and 1000Mbps up. How many more years must we wait for investment, both private & government, for that bandwidth capability at home?

  • Spitfire400
  • 6 months ago

Good point Spitfire, I get that a little further East than the EU via ethernet with very low contention, control panel for speeds, IPTV and other services for less than I pay for 80/20 here. A boon for businesses of all sizes. xDSL also available and city wifi services are commonplace. I don't know if OFCOM and UK Government will ever have the will to properly legislate and invest in this vital economic driver, tinkering seems to be the plan.

  • radiomarko
  • 6 months ago

Use of foul language will get comments removed, absolutely nothing wrong in people expressing opinions but if you want your comment to remain do so without using offensive language.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

Can't really compare the UK market with countries with a fraction of the PPP GDP, or those whose governments are higher taxation and have invested far more in broadband deployments.

Regarding JIT provisioning of G.fast, doing so would considerably increase the cost per premises and a single customer wouldn't make a dent in the initial deployment costs given the price increment over FTTC. Would be a nightmare to deliver and would really upset CPs in case of issues with enabling the cabinet.

  • CarlThomas
  • 6 months ago

@Blackmamba
Interesting idea but I'm pretty confident that Openreach does not deploy by postcode area. For example, I know that there are some postcodes where different premises have access to different services. Where postcodes and network do align it is simply coincidence.

Pointing this out so that your comments don't confuse others.

  • New_Londoner
  • 6 months ago

@TheEulerID:

"OR investment has nothing to do with BT Retail and will have even less in the future"

Steve, this is not quite true. It is the BT Group which sets the budget for Openreach. And the BT Group gets its income from all of its businesses, including BT Retail.

  • JNeuhoff
  • 6 months ago

Hi Londoner.
Many thanks for your remarks as the Post Code (GPS) is very important to the provision of G/Fast and FTTC.

  • Blackmamba
  • 6 months ago

@JNEuhoff

I didn't say OR investment had nothing to do with BT. I said it had nothing to do with BR Retail. Both OR and BT Retail investments have to stand on their own merits. The case (for example) for BT Sport stands and falls by on its own merits - if it makes a return, then it will get investment as there will be those willing to lend. That's precisely the same for (say) g.fast in OR. No return, then no investment.

In that there is a connection, it is only insofar as whether BT Retail are likely to be selling more g.fast based services.

  • TheEulerID
  • 6 months ago

I believe we have been through this.

GPS is nothing to do with postcodes.

The cabinets don't use postcodes as part of their routing.

G.fast doesn't care about radius from the cabinet. It cares about cable length.

BT will almost certainly have a big workflow for G.fast much as they did with FTTC.

Having staff sitting around doing nothing waiting for cabinets to plan and build costs way more per hour than a single customer's bill per month.

  • CarlThomas
  • 6 months ago

@BM - why this obsession with postcodes? What matters is the location of the property and how it's connected to the network. A postcode is just a convenient way of grouping a number of properties together for mail delivery.

And GPS is nothing to do with the location of properties, unless you mean lat/long.

  • Somerset
  • 6 months ago

TheEuliar, it is good that BT can make G.Fast commercial in places deemed uncommercial for FTTC and needing subsidy. Having taken subsidy at Cambridge Science Park which was strange, installing G.Fast is still odd given there must be duct to support FTTP.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 6 months ago

Andrew, are you counting superfast and ultrafast separately? Allhollows 2 &3 have subsidised FTTC already, but no 6 looks new. On Code look it references new capacity being added against those pods.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 6 months ago

@cymru123

Yes we're shown as end of 2018. Although 3 weeks ago we were shown as end 2017.

There's a community-led wireless project in the next village, and the guy there has access to some OR plans (somehow). Our specific postcode is listed as "No Build", so I guess that means we will still get nothing even at the end of 2018.

  • jimwillsher
  • 6 months ago

Allhallows 6 was a mistake when typing out the list.

On "counting superfast and ultrafast separately?" not sure what you mean, system is aware that not every premises on a cabinet with a pod is within reach for gfast. As for what codelook says I cannot say, as I don't use it or care.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

From what i understand it's only eldon house city centre exchange in sheffield being rolled out there's no cable in the city centre so only business i feel will benefit BT should i think rewire loop from cab with full copper to premise maybe with fibre running down the middle for future full fibre roll out with a fully screened cable to stop crosstalk as g.fast uses a much higher frequency this would make perfect sense but all pie in the sky just like g.fast itself lol

  • 2doorsbob
  • 6 months ago

I'm not convinced deploying a new, shielded, copper and fibre hybrid cable for G.fast makes any sense. If you're deploying a new cable go straight to fibre, given getting the cable to the premises is the expensive part, and skip G.fast. Lol.

  • CarlThomas
  • 6 months ago

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