BT says G.Fast trials are on track with eight competitive providers aboard

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BT (NYSE: BT) is on track with its G.fast trials, serving its own customers and eight of its competitive carrier provider customers via its Openreach division. But the service provider is still weighing how it can make an investment case for a broader deployment.

Speaking to investors during its third quarter 2016 earnings call, CEO Gavin Patterson said that while it still needs regulatory clarity from the UK's telecom regulator Ofcom, the trials are on track.

Part of the regulatory uncertainty hinges upon Ofcom's findings from its Digital Communications Review (DCR) of the UK telecom market, which was originally set to be completed at the end of 2015.

"I think originally it was aimed to conclude at the end of 2015, but clearly we're not going to have that degree of certainty," Patterson said. "With respect to G.fast, the trial is very much going as planned, and just to remind you it's a trial that covers not just BT, I think there are eight service providers that have being on the trial including some of our fiercest critics. And in terms of the performance, it is delivering everything that we expected of it."

Patterson said that gaining regulatory certainty is something it will speak to Ofcom about as it lays out its G.fast investment plans.

"I do believe that if we're going to make this sort of investment and it is considerable one that we do need some regulatory certainties," Patterson said. "So I think it will be one of the issues that we will be talking to Ofcom about, I think they're completely aware of that. And we've had a number of discussions already, but whether or not the timing aligns perfectly I couldn't say at the moment."

In the G.fast trials it is conducting with Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary, Adtran, as well as Huawei, BT is finding it can deliver about 330 Mbps to a home within 300 meters of a remote terminal (RT) cabinet.

The carrier recently announced it is testing Adtran's 500G fiber-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) platform at 2,000 premises in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK. BT is holding similar G.fast trials in Gosforth, located in northeast England, and Hethersett, Norfolk. If it can prove out the right business case, BT previously said it would deploy G.fast in 2016 and 2017 alongside its fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services.

For more:
- see the Seeking Alpha earnings transcript (sub. req.)

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