BT has begun trialling its G.fast technology in the Cambridgeshire market town of Huntingdon, offering speeds of up to 500Mbps from existing copper connections.
The trial is the first real-world use of G.fast by BT’s Openreach division, and some 2,000 premises are expected to be able to use the service once the field test is completed.
A handful of properties are already using G.fast with speeds of 330Mbps, far in excess of standard copper services and most commercial fibre services. Virgin Media's fastest fibre service is 152Mbps, for example.
The trial will run for six to nine months and eight communication providers that use the Openreach network in the area will be able to test the service if they wish. These firms are currently in discussion with customers about trialling G.fast.
BT said that the trial will help the firm to assess the performance of the technology across a large, residential deployment area. Further trials are set to take place in Gosforth in Newcastle upon Tyne, and Swansea in south Wales from September.
Joe Garner, chief executive of Openreach, claimed that the trial is a major stepping stone in the division’s efforts to boost the UK's broadband speeds.
“Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future. This is the largest trial of G.fast technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams,” he said.
“The people of Huntingdon will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of the UK over the coming years.”
G.fast is BT’s attempt to breathe new life into its ageing copper network and remove the need to provide fibre connections to boost speeds.
G.Fast works in two ways. It takes fibre closer to the premises by running it from a cabinet to a telephone pole or footway box, complemented by a new transmission technology that reduces the 'crosstalk' from other copper lines. BT likens this to noise-cancelling technology in headphones.
Openreach's efforts in this area come amid growing pressure on BT to spin the business off into a separate unit. BT insists that is not necessary, but the industry wants to ensure that more money is put into new installations and repairs.
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