BT has announced that trials of its G.fast technology for mobile networks have shown that the technology can allow copper lines to handle the speeds necessary for mobile 'fronthaul' networks.
G.fast is being tested in several locations in the UK with a view to being used to upgrade existing copper connections to speeds that will rival fibre services.
BT has now claimed a world first in using G.fast for Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN) services, essentially the network connection between a mobile mast and dedicated mobile backhaul networks.
This connection usually has to be fibre to handle the speed required to move data between the tower and the network and back again to a mobile phone, but this is costly and complicated for mobile operators to deploy, especially in remote regions and dense urban environments.
However, BT said that it managed to send cellular data connections at speeds of 150Mbps to 200Mbps over G.fast connections in a C-RAN environment, more than adequate for mobile data requirements.
The research took place at BT’s Adastral Park labs in Ipswich, and Dr Tim Whitley, managing director for research and innovation at BT, described the results as a major breakthrough for the future of mobile data networks.
“These technologies will play a key role in 4G networks and will be fundamental to 5G architectures. The trials are another step towards a fixed and mobile network which will support customers’ increasing demands for data,” he said.
BT carried out the research with US semiconductor firm Cavium, and Raj Singh, general manager of Cavium's Wireless Broadband Group, was equally effusive about the impact of the tests on the future of 5G services.
“Our successful testing has laid the groundwork for enabling LTE deployments today and 5G deployments in the future using G.fast," he said.
G.fast could certainly be a game-changer for the UK broadband market. BT announced in October that it achieved speeds as high as 5Gbps over copper broadband using an advanced version of G.fast called XG.fast.
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