AT&T is testing G.fast to deliver 300 Mbps in MDU environments

AT&T (NYSE: T) has begun testing G.fast technology in its labs and now is looking at how it could be used to bring up to 300 Mbps to multi-dwelling units (MDUs) by leveraging a building's existing wire versus installing fiber to individual premises.

One of its proposals would require placing fiber network terminals outside of MDU locations that would serve four to eight units off each terminal.

Bill Smith, president of technology operations for AT&T, told Light Reading that it has not conducted any field G.fast tests at any MDU locations in its wireline footprint.

"We haven't made the call yet on G.fast," Smith said. "Hopefully it turns out to be part of our arsenal." 

Smith said that the telco could see using G.fast over copper connections to provide service to apartment buildings, condominium complexes as well as MDUs where it can't get permission from a building owner to extend fiber to each living unit.

Today, AT&T is using GPON technology as the foundation for its GigaPower fiber network to deliver up to 1 Gbps speeds to its customers. The telco plans to use GPON to meet most of its commitment to the FCC to extend its fiber network as a condition of its acquisition of DirecTV in 2015. AT&T has agreed to bring its fiber to 1.6 million homes by the end of 2015, 2.6 million by the end of 2016 and 12.5 million by the end of 2019.

Smith said the company intended to exceed the FCC's schedule. 

Given the size of its FTTH commitment, the service provider has been realigning its GPON installation processes by deploying smaller optical network terminals (ONTs) in homes in some new housing developments and running Cat 5 cabling into the homes.

Smith said AT&T was looking at how it could use these methods across a larger part of its FTTH network footprint, adding that it has reduced installation costs lower than its $1,000 per home target. However, the telco continues to struggle with more effective ways to lay fiber underground, a common issue for all service providers.

"We're way, way beyond meeting that target," he said. "We just can't figure out a better way to dig a trench."

For more:
- Light Reading has this article

Related articles:
AT&T's G.fast plans could boost Adtran's revenues, says Cowen and Company
PON deployments give broadband access sales $12B lift in 2015, says research firm
BT, Tier 1 providers' G.Fast installation mirrors traditional DSL, but success hinges on ability to scale
As gigabit subscribers grow toward 100M, so does case for G.fast, analyst says

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