Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and A1, a Telekom Austria Group subsidiary, held a trial of the emerging G.fast vectoring standard where they delivered 1 Gbps-plus speeds over short distances on existing copper network connections to homes and businesses.
Combining a number of technologies, including pair-bonding, vectoring and phantom mode, G.fast can theoretically provide upstream and downstream capacity of up to 1 Gbps over distances of up to 500 meters on copper. As a hybrid copper/fiber network implementation, a service provider would bring fiber to a distribution point that's located close to the customer premise.
Leveraging a Bell Labs prototype, the trial tested G.fast over two wiring scenarios: a single, good quality cable, and older unshielded cables. A1 and Alcatel-Lucent demonstrated 1.1 Gbps over 70 meters on the newer copper cable, and achieved 800 Mbps over 100 meters and 500 Mbps over 100 meters on the older unshielded cable--which makes up the majority of in-building cabling in Austria.
When a second line was introduced on the older cables, creating crosstalk between them, G.fast speed fell to 60 Mbps. However, when the providers enabled vectoring on the older lines and removed crosstalk between the copper pairs, speed rose up to 500 Mbps over 100 meters.
The G.fast trial is being conducted as A1 moves forward with its Giga-Network initiative. Giga-Network consists of a two-part solution of FTTC (fiber to the curb) and FTTEx (fiber-to-the-exchange, also known as VDSL@CO) to connect Telekom Austria's central office equipment with the last mile copper network. Separately, it has rolled out FTTH (fiber to the home) in select markets.
A1 is an early adopter of vectoring. Last year, the telco began introducing Alcatel-Lucent's technology into areas covered by its Giga-Network.
While there is no standard for G.fast, the ITU-T expects to approve one by next year, with chipsets appearing in 2015 and first-generation commercial products coming in 2016.
G.fast comes at a transitional time for copper-based broadband. While copper-based DSL, including ADSL and ADSL2+, still account for 56.95 percent of the market, a recent Point Topic report said that those services declined from 59.6 percent in Q2 2012.
The decline is likely related to existing customers migrating off lower speed ADSL services to higher speed VDSL2-based services. Over the past year, VDSL and VDSL2 grew 27 percent overall, while FTTH grew 3 percent.
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