The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says G.fast, the new standard that will enable access network speeds of up to 1Gbps over copper telephone cable, is on track for approval by April 2014.
The physical-layer protocol aspects of G.fast defined by Recommendation ITU-T G.9701 “Fast Access to Subscriber Terminals – Physical layer specification” have reached the point of stability required to initiate the standard’s approval procedure, the organisation says.
G.fast “combines the best aspects of fibre and ADSL2” according to the press release, and is seen by many as the most realistic option for mass market deployment of 1Gbps to consumers.
This approach avoids the need to install optical fibre behind the front door of the customer’s property, which promises to save the operator the time and expense of accessing individual premises. The customer will be able to self-install the equipment, as they do today with DSL.
Higher speeds will only be available over a maximum of 250m of telephone cable, however which will require operators to drive optical fibre even deeper into their access networks. G.fast technology could be deployed from aggregation points in the streets such as a manhole, cabinet or pole, in an architecture known as fibre-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp).
With stability in the standards, vendors will now be able to finalise their G.fast product offerings. Immediately following the ITU’s announcement, Israeli start-up Sckipio came out of stealth mode to announce that it had received $10 million in funding to develop chips for G.fast modems.
Deployment of G.fast is thought to be a number of years out, although operators have clearly been keeping an eye on the technology. Last year, Huawei Technologies delivered a pre-standard version of G.fast to Swisscom, and also plans to test its kit with UK operator BT. Alcatel-Lucent also performed field trials of G.fast vectoring technology with A1, the Austrian subsidiary of Telecom Austria Group.
By Pauline Rigby
Press release: New ITU broadband standard fast-tracks route to 1Gbit/s
Press release: G.Fast’s 1Gbps Broadband Quickly Becoming a Reality