Will G.fast ‘Un-obsolete’ Copper in Telco Networks?

Carl Weinschenk
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The era of G.fast, an approach that radically expands the data carrying capabilities of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, is almost here.

The promise is short distance speeds of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps). That’s enticing, but it won’t be available to end users for a while, according to CNET. From a higher perspective, G.fast should be seen as the latest iteration of a long-term and systematic attempt to save the huge base of copper that exists around the world:

It will be awhile -- a couple years at least, most likely -- before DSL customers see gigabit speeds. The telecommunications industry really is only now installing its predecessor, called VDSL for "vectored" DSL. But the first stage of the next transition is beginning with the arrival of chips for the communications gear in telecom networks -- and in the home network equipment on the other end of the connection.

Here are some of the G.fast announcements:

  • Alcatel-Lucent said its 7368 ISAM single port G.fast optical network terminals (ONT) will be available during the first quarter of next year. Lightwave Online says that the distance over which the new ONT will deliver gigabit services was not mentioned by the vendor. The story notes that the advantages of G.fast over VDSL2, the current state of the art in bolstering DSL, fade after 250 meters. Few deployments will call on copper to carry signals longer than that distance, however.
  • Broadcom is introducing the BCM65200/900 chip family. The chips, according to The Register, are aimed at the central office. They support G.fast, G.vector, VDSL2 and ADSL on a per-port basis. The BCM63138, companion products aimed at consumer equipment, support ADSL, VDSL, vectoring, G.fast, gigabit Ethernet and LTE.
  • At Broadband Taiwan earlier this month, Sckipio Technologies unveiled what Light Reading said is the first G.fast modem chipsets. The DP3000 G.fast DPU Chipset and the CP1000 G.fast CPE Chipset “are designed from scratch” and “are not a re-spin of previous VDSL solutions.”
  • Sagemcom introduced a media gateway, the F@st 5360, which it says is both a residential gateway and home media center. In addition to G.fast, it supports Gigabit Ethernet, GPON/EPON interfaces, ADSL, VDSL2 and VDSL2 vectoring.
  • ADTRAN said that it is in trials of its 500G G.fast platform with service providers in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.
  • Another sign that attention is turning to G.fast is that the ecosystem is getting ready to analyze the emerging products. The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) has been selected as the testing lab for the technology’s certification program. A “plugfest” will be held in January. The goal of the certification program and plugfest is to ensure that demarcation and customer premise equipment can work together, Network World says.

It will be a while until G.fast equipment is serving end users. It’s a big deal, however: If the technology meets expectations and delivers 1 Gbps of data, many of the equations that network planners rely on today will be upended.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 24, 2014 3:47 AM cswilly cswilly  says:
Nope. VDSL == "Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line" To be sure, what is new is vectored VDSL2 is being rolled out now. This where they are adding vectoring to VSDL2 to reduce crosstalk to improve performance. Reply

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