NBN to launch G.fast in 2018

NBN's gigabit speed-enabling technology for its fibre-to-the-node, building, and curb networks will be launching next year, it has announced.

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has announced that it will be launching G.fast technology across its FttX networks in 2018, with the upgrade potentially allowing speeds of up to 1Gbps across the 106MHz or 212MHz frequencies.

G.fast, which can be used across NBN's fibre-copper mix networks including fibre to the node (FttN), fibre to the building (FttB), and fibre to the curb (FttC), replaces VDSL technology which currently limits these networks to speeds of around 100Mbps.

"Adding G.fast to the toolkit for the FttC and FttB networks will allow us to deliver ultra-fast services faster and more cost effectively than if we had to deliver them on a full fibre-to-the-premises connection," NBN chief strategy officer JB Rousselot said.

"Adding G.fast over FttC provides the upgrade path for our FttN end users to ultimately receive gigabit speeds."

NBN said that it would conduct further testing of G.fast technology prior to the launch next year, alongside tech partners Nokia, NetComm Wireless, and AdTran.

"A 2018 launch for G.fast puts NBN on a firm pathway to gigabit services in its copper network domain," Els Baert, Nokia Fixed Networks Strategy Engagement, said.

"This launch demonstrates NBN's opportunity to utilise new and emerging access network technologies and existing assets to support service upgrades and its future evolution. "

NBN and Nokia trialled G.fast back in 2015, attaining speeds of 522Mbps down/78Mbps up over a FttB connection with 100 metres of copper, with Nokia also trialling G.fast's next iteration, XG-FAST, in August last year for speeds of 8Gbps.

NetComm Wireless similarly announced attaining 1.66Gbps aggregate speeds across a reverse-powered FttC G.fast distribution point unit (DPU) in partnership with BT Openreach, using 40 metres of copper lead-in cable as well as spectrum frequency of up to 212MHz in August.

The DPU, designed and built by NetComm Wireless, can be installed on either a telegraph pole or in a pit to provide aggregate gigabit speeds when within 150 metres of a premises, according to the company.

"NetComm Wireless began developing FttDP DPUs when it became clear that an alternative to fibre to the premises was needed," COO Timo Brouwer said.

NetComm Wireless signed on to provide NBN's FttC DPUs and related services in November 2016. Under the deal, it will supply NBN with one-port and four-port DPUs to be installed in pits outside premises to connect the legacy copper with fibre within NBN's FttC footprint of 1 million premises.

ZDNet had revealed last year, however, that NBN would be launching its FttC network not with G.fast, but instead with old VDSL technology. Using VDSL, NBN earlier this week announced attaining speeds of 109/44Mbps on its first activated FttC premises in Coburg, Melbourne.

Meanwhile, small Australian internet service provider (ISP) Comvergence began deploying the nation's first G.fast services using the AXOS solution from broadband communications access systems and software provider Calix back in April, well ahead of NBN's 2018 launch timeframe.

While NBN's fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network is currently the only one capable of 1Gbps speeds, NBN is similarly launching DOCSIS 3.1 technology across its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network at the end of 2018.

In June, NBN had attained download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps during a lab trial of DOCSIS 3.1, and will conduct trials in February ahead of the eventual launch of Full Duplex DOCSIS that could enable 10Gbps symmetrical speeds across HFC.

Nokia is also working with NBN on deploying NG-PON2 across its FttP network, which would bring speeds up to 10Gbps, while NetComm Wireless helped NBN attain gigabit speeds on its fixed-wireless network, also developing a fixed-wireless network terminating device that allows a 100/40Mbps fixed-wireless product.

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