Frontier says Gfast creates speed equality in Fios footprint

copper wiring legacy networks
Frontier says Gfast is showing potential in shoring up MDU speeds within its Fios footprint. (Pixabay)

As Frontier progresses with its Gfast plans, the service provider is finding that it can more effectively bring higher speed broadband services to apartment buildings that have not been equipped with fiber within its growing Fios footprint.

In some cases, the service provider is often finding a speed differential between apartment buildings and single-family homes that are right next to one another.

Scott Mispagel, senior VP of network architecture and engineering for Frontier, told FierceTelecom that Gfast allows the telco to address the speed discrepancy quickly for customers in apartment buildings that today could only could get slower connections due to the limitations of existing VDSL2 technology.

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“The single-family units that are next door to the apartments can get our 300 Mbps or 500 Mbps services,” Mispagel said. “If there’s not fiber connected into every one of those apartments, we have an ONT that converts into VDSL 30a and we’re only selling like 40 or 50 Mbps services to those apartments.”  

Mispagel added that “Gfast enables us to offer the same 300 and 500 Mbps services” that are offered to single-family homes in the company's Fios footprint.

Maintaining MDU focus

Frontier is maintaining its Gfast focus on serving mainly multidwelling units (MDUs) where it can leverage a building’s existing coax or copper wiring to deliver between 300 and 500 Mbps of broadband service to multiple customers.

In May, the service provider began its Gfast journey in Connecticut, aiming the technology to increase in-building broadband speeds for customers that live in apartments and MDUs throughout the state. Following a Gfast test bed it has been conducting in one building within Connecticut, Mispagel said that Frontier plans to extend Gfast to more locations throughout 2018. However, he did not reveal which other markets outside Connecticut would be the next to get this service.

“We have a Gfast tested and ready to go,” Mispagel said. “What we’re doing is focusing on MDUs, which is not unique to Frontier.”

Mispagel added that “we have one beta trial that’s now in full production and we’re expanding it into garden style apartment complexes.”  

Simplifying installations

While Frontier will evolve its Gfast targets over time, the technology enables the telco to quickly bring higher speed broadband to more customers without having to rewire an existing building, which can be one of the biggest cost barriers to any network expansion.

By using Nokia’s Gfast technology, Frontier can immediately satisfy its customers’ desire for fiberlike broadband speeds leveraging an MDU’s last 100 meters of existing copper or coax wiring. Nokia’s Gfast technology incorporates built-in vectoring technology, which reduces cross-talk interference that typically impacts data speeds over copper networks.

Like other large telcos AT&T and CenturyLink, which are also in various stages of trialing and rolling out Gfast technology, the use of existing wiring facilities reflects the challenges of dealing with stringing wires in older buildings. Oftentimes, these buildings could have blocked ducts or other infrastructure that poses challenges to installing new wiring like fiber.

“We can get higher speeds into an apartment building without having to fish fiber through a 50-year old apartment building,” Mispagel said.