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Alcatel boss: G.fast will bring higher speeds sooner

Monday, October 27th 2014 by Dean Reilly

Copper cables still have more to give, and will bring superfast speeds to more people sooner, according to the marketing head of a French telecoms company.

Stefaan Vanhastel, marketing director for the Wireline Division at Alcatel-Lucent, told Cable.co.uk that G.fast technology can speed up the arrival of fibre to the home.

He said: “G.fast is basically, for all practical purposes, fibre to the home, but for the last few metres we use the existing telephone line.

"Fibre to the home is still the most future proof technology; it’s just that G.fast gives you fibre-like speeds. I think we’re going to see it for a long time.

“It’s an accelerator for fibre to the home deployment. Is it future proof? In a word, yes.”

G.fast technology uses a combination of fibre and conventional copper wires to deliver gigabit speeds to commercial and business premises. Recent tests conducted by BT saw fibre lines running to central distribution points, often within 250m of buildings, with the remainder of the journey completed with copper.

Speaking about the development of G.fast in partnership with BT, Mr Vanhastel added: “That’s the beauty with these technologies. What you’re doing is starting with fibre to the cabinet, to the street corner or the basement of a building. This investment can be perfectly reused when you go to fibre to the home.

“It’s just that you get more bandwidth faster. It’s good from the subscribers’ perspective. From the operators’ perspective, they can deliver more bandwidth. Even more interestingly, the operator can start generating revenue today, and use that revenue to further invest in fibre to the home.”

Although speeds were found to be faster than current fibre-to-the-cabinet solutions, consumers need to be closer to these central distribution points to take advantage of higher data transfer rates.

“If you start with pure fibre to the home, you start by digging a really big hole – both literally and financially. Then after a while, you start making profit. Maybe after seven years you break even and start making money.

“If you look at a mixed approach, you have a much smaller hole, you reach break even after maybe three years, and then you invest that money to upgrade the FTTX users to full fibre to the home.

“So the end result is the same, everyone is on fibre to the home. It also means that everyone gets access to higher speeds sooner.

“Yes, we need to build those gigabit networks, but nobody wants to wait ten or twenty years. I’d much rather have 100Mbps today and then my gigabit in ten years – that’s fine. But don’t give me nothing today then promise me 1Gbps in ten years.”

Additional reporting by Ellen Branagh.

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