NBN attains 8Gbps speeds over copper in XG-FAST trial with Nokia

NBN and Nokia have achieved aggregate speeds of 8Gbps using XG-FAST, which can be deployed over networks that use copper for the last mile including FttN, FttB, and FttDP.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has announced the results from its trial of XG-FAST technology with Nokia, saying it attained aggregate speeds of 8Gbps over 30-metre runs of legacy copper.

The speeds, achieved over standard twisted-pair copper, were attained during a lab trial in NBN's North Sydney headquarters last month.

XG-FAST technology could be used across network technologies utilising copper for the last mile, including NBN's fibre-to-the-node (FttN), fibre-to-the-basement (FttB), and fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FttDP) networks.

"Although XG-FAST is still in its very early stages of development, the lab trials we have conducted demonstrates the huge potential that the technology offers," said NBN CTO Dennis Steiger.

"XG-FAST gives us the potential ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds over copper lines -- virtually on a par with what is currently available on fibre to the premises -- but at a lower cost and time to deploy."

NBN also attained aggregate speeds of 5Gbps over 70 metres of twisted-pair copper, which is three times the average copper line length between pit and premises, according to NBN.

"NBN is now well advanced in its goal to deliver ubiquitous broadband coverage across Australia. At the same time, NBN is actively engaged to make sure it has the flexibility to adapt for future demands, including through trials of emerging technologies like G.fast and XG-FAST," added Ray Owen, head of Nokia Oceania.

"As NBN's original fixed networks partner, we will continue to work with NBN to ensure it is exposed to the very latest technology innovation, and best placed to evolve its network."

In August, NBN announced that it would be trialling XG-FAST, the next iteration of G.fast, with hopes of reaching aggregate speeds of between 5Gbps and 8Gbps.

NBN is the third operator in the world to test XG-FAST in lab trials, following BT in the United Kingdom and Deutsche Telekom in Germany. BT attained speeds of 5.8Gbps over 35m of copper, while Deutsche Telekom saw 8Gbps speeds over 50m of copper.

"It is about making sure we provide a minimum performance level today with an upgrade path. This is vitally important," NBN CEO Bill Morrow said at the time.

"We're constantly looking at new things that we can deploy that will give either a lower cost, faster time to get everybody connected, or better speeds. And that's where we think about FttDP ... we know that when we think about that technology, we think about G.fast as the technology that will go over the top of that to give us some pretty fast speeds, and most recently we've been testing XG-FAST that actually takes that out to a whole new level of multiple gigabits per second capability."

NBN has been trialling FttDP across Sydney and Melbourne, recently announcing that it will roll out FttDP to 700,000 premises.

In October last year, NBN and now Nokia-owned Alcatel Lucent similarly attained speeds of 522Mbps down/78Mbps up during a trial of G.fast -- the precursor to XG-FAST -- FttB technology over a 100m copper line.

On Monday, Ovum released a report saying approximately 29 million premises globally will be enabled by G.fast network technology by 2021, with the network technology to deliver aggregate speeds of around 500Mbps.

NBN is in the second stage of G.fast adoption, Ovum said, having conducted a lab test and a small field trial, along with Cable & Wireless in Panama; Elisa in Finland; Homenet in Norway; Hrvatski Telecom in Croatia; TeliaSonera in Finland; and Windstream in the United States.

Ahead of Australia, having conducted a lab test, a small field trial, and a large field trial, are CenturyLink in the US; Chunghwa in Taiwan; and Bezeq in Israel, while the frontrunners, which have also announced their rollout schedule for the network technology, are BT Openreach in the UK; Energia Communications in Japan; both M-net and NetCologne in Germany; and Swisscom in Switzerland.

According to Ovum, Western European markets will deploy G.fast more "aggressively" than elsewhere in the world; around 11 percent of broadband services in this region are forecast to be delivered via G.fast within the next five years.

This is due to the European Commission's target of connecting 50 percent of all premises with speeds of 100Mbps or higher by 2020. By comparison, Australia's broadband target is to connect 100 percent of all premises with speeds of 25Mbps or higher by 2020.

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