BT has achieved speeds as high as 5Gbps over copper broadband using an advanced version of its G.fast technology, in a move that could future-proof the UK’s copper broadband network for the foreseeable future.
The new version of the technology, dubbed XG.fast, has been tested in conjunction with Alcatel-Lucent at BT’s R&D labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk and Alcatel's labs in Antwerp, Belgium.
The 5Gbps was achieved over a 35-metre connection, which BT said is a record for this type of transmission over such a distance.
However, perhaps more notably a speed of 1.8Gbps was achieved over a 100-metre connection, which BT said is well over the normal distance of a property from a distribution point, such as a cabinet, pole or footway box.
As such, the potential real-world use of XG.fast could provide speeds far in excess of anything available today.
Trevor Linney, head of access network research at BT, explained that the results are exciting and showed that there’s plenty of life in the copper network, although he noted that there is a long way to go to fully develop XG.fast.
“The XG.fast tests prove the physics work and that copper has a lot more to give, but G.fast in its current form will be the backbone of our ultrafast work," he told V3.
Linney said, for example, that the specifications for XG.fast will have to be approved by the ITU and adhere to various industry requirements before any real-world tests can take place.
G.fast is already being trialled in the UK, and residents in Huntingdon and Gosforth have received downstream speeds of up to 330Mbps. BT believes this could rise as high as 500Mbps in some areas.
Linney noted that it was remarkable how far copper broadband is still being pushed.
“If you look back 10 years ago we were still playing with ADSL at scale, and if someone said you’d be looking at shipping 1Gbps services you’d be told you were crazy, but there’s definitely more road to go on [with copper].”
BT recently unveiled its ambition to ensure that everyone in the UK can achieve speeds of at least 5Mbps-10Mbps, alongside a more lofty of goal of giving the majority of the population access to speeds of up to 1Gbps.
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