As gigabit subscribers grow toward 100M, so does case for G.fast, analyst says

As broadband providers like AT&T (NYSE: T), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) and others compete to bring 1 Gbps and higher speeds into more U.S. communities, the need for a somewhat futureproof solution to consumer and business demand is growing. These providers need to take a look at G.fast, which can accelerate broadband over existing copper pairs, a research analyst said.

In fact, according to Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic, as many as half of the leading broadband markets worldwide will adopt G.fast technology by 2020. "G.fast clearly works best economically in a mature market with copper in the local loop so I expect most of today's leading markets will have some G.fast in the next five years and some, should see coverage approaching 50% of the market," said Johnson, speaking to the Broadband Forum.

Right now, the number of subscribers to broadband services of 1 Gbps and higher is only about 10 million globally, a report by Point Topic revealed. However, as the cost of services drops and the number of gigabit tariffs rises, subscribership is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 65 percent between now and 2020. Total subscribers may reach 100 million by then, with 70 percent of that growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

G.fast is currently in trials with several operators including Alcatel-Lucent, BT (NYSE: BT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Deutsche Telekom. In October, a joint BT-ALU demonstration achieved 5.6 Gbps over 35 meters of copper cable, and 1.8 Gbps over 100 meters of copper cable.

At the end of 2015, a Deutsche Telekom-ALU lab trial reported achieving 11 Gbps over 50 meters of Cat 6 copper cable. The companies also said they were able to achieve 8 Gbps over 50 meters of standard drop cable. Theoretically, XG-Fast can also reach 1 Gbps symmetrical speeds over in-building telephone cables.

If implemented, G.fast technologies could amp up existing solutions to getting high broadband speed over copper, such as bonding and vectoring methods.

Johnson said the technology is an "excellent solution" for now, but standards and certifications for G.fast need to be put in place in order for it to be a strong competitor in the market. "The only doubt there could be is how long it can effectively compete, particularly when it comes to continued OPEX v CAPEX required for end-to-end fiber, and a lot of that depends on the next step of actually delivering it in the real mass market world," he said. "If it's quick, clean, meets global standards and certifications such as those proposed by the Broadband Forum, and continues to offer significant NFV/SDN and vectoring improvements then it will be strong tomorrow as well as today."

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