Verizon won't use G.fast to connect MDUs, focuses on bringing fiber to living, business units

Verizon sign
Verizon has been strategically replacing aging copper plant with fiber at its consumer and business locations.

HUNTSVILLE—G.fast may have captured the hearts and minds of some telcos, but for Verizon the technology won’t become part of their FTTH multiple dwelling unit (MDU) deployment program.

Vincent O’Byrne, director of network planning for Verizon, told attendees during the Adtran Connect event that the service provider does not have G.fast in its MDU playbook.

Vincent O'Byrne, Verizon director of access technology
Vincent O'Byrne

“Our strategy for G.Fast is not to deploy it,” O’Byrne said.

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Instead, Verizon will maintain its plans to bring fiber directly into each apartment or business location within each MDU.

“The strategy we’re using today is fiber all the way to the living unit,” O’Byrne said. “There’s some small percentage that we use fiber to the building and then copper inside the building itself, but because we have two vendors on BPON and on GPON meant in those units we had 8 types of different MDU units.”

VDSL2 interoperability issues

One of the main reasons why Verizon is opting to not use G.fast is based on the experience it had with using copper-based VDSL2 for its initial MDU FTTH drive.

During that process, the service provider found that many of the VDSL2 vendor platforms it was using were becoming obsolete and there was no interoperability.

“The MDU units started to go end of life and for VDSL2 there wasn’t any interoperability,” O’Byrne said. “Even though we worked on it for a year, it became nuisance so we stopped using those common ONTs and concentrated on getting fiber to the living unit.”

Speed is also an issue. Verizon found that the existing VDSL2 products would not be able to handle the 1 Gbps and above speeds it planned to deliver across its Fios footprint and saw similar trouble with G.fast.

“We ended up in a situation where the 13 units of VDSL2 were going end of life as well as lower speed down the surrounding Fios network, which could get up to 1 Gbps,” O’Byrne said. “With G.fast we see ourselves potentially being in the same situation five years from now where we would have to replace the same thing.”

MDU copper challenges

But VDSL2 interoperability is just one issue.

While there is a greater cost and challenge to get landlord permission for MDU installations for fiber, O’Byrne said that bringing fiber directly to each premises is more of a future proof strategy.

“It’s a bit more expensive to put the single family unit fiber connections out there, but we have the same kind of service as the rest of the network,” O’Byrne said. “We also found that the trouble report rate is less on the fiber all the way to the living unit.”

Given the diversity and varying condition of copper plant in Verizon’s wider nationwide network, Verizon has applied its copper replacement strategy for the MDU markets.  

In recent years, Verizon has been strategically replacing aging copper plant with fiber at its consumer and business locations. The service provider said that this method enables it to reduce costs by not having to perform multiple customer visits when problems arise.

“At Verizon we were finding the trouble reports on the copper were two to three times more than when we had fiber to the living unit,” O’Byrne said. “For a long time, the copper plant in the Verizon network was not as good as it was in some locations so if we went to G.fast it would be low volume and we would have the same issues five years down the road.”