What is G.Fast and when will we see it in London?

G.Fast in LondonG.Fast in London

What is G.Fast?

G.Fast is a technology that delivers the next generation of broadband over your copper telephone wire and falls into the same family as ADSL(2) and VDSL(2), the latter of which currently powers BT’s Infinity service in the UK.  Whilst most see G.Fast as the next upgrade for services such as BT Infinity, it is still early days.  As with most DSL lines, distance from your property to the network (most often the cabinet) will influence the speed available; the current thinking is that speeds will range from 150mb/second to 1gb/second.

Will I need a new line?

No, not in your property.  The reason that telecoms companies such as BT (and Openreach) are backing G.Fast is that their copper phone network is a huge asset and G.Fast enables them to deliver really quick broadband down that existing line.  The current plans by BT have not yet settled on the requirements for their infrastructure, it may be that they can run off existing Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology with G.Fast doing the rest;  the other option is that they put a fibre to the distribution point (FTTdb) which is essentially up the telegraph pole, and then G.Fast to the property over copper.  In reality it may be that a mix of this is deployed.  If we focus on highly populated areas such as London it may be that, to have enough capacity, FTTdb is required.

How fast will it go in London?

The theoretical limits described above are just that, theoretical limits.  In statements by BT are looking at an entry level download speed of 160mb/second, with the initial rollout featuring a 300mb/second capacity.  The aim is that this will be upped to 500mb/second.

What has happened to date?

In the UK BT have been actively running trials in Cambridgeshire and Newcastle, with plans for more.  G.Fast has attracted critisim from many who believe that we should be focusing on the much more future proof Fibre to the Premises rather than old copper networks.  There are a few small roll-outs in the world.  A major roll-out has most recently been carried out by Swisscom, with packages offering up to 500mb/second over the telephone wire.  At present there are no full scale roll outs in the UK.    BT expect the UK (and hence London) roll out to take place by 2020.

What can I get now?

G.Fast has the benefit of running over existing copper phone lines, however if you are in a Virgin Media area then today you can already get a broadband line that tops out at 300mb/second with the Vivid package.  Check it out here.

About the Author

James Harley
James lives in London and is a keen author in the consumer telecommunications space. He always has a keen eye on the latest news, offers and deals available to broadband users.

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