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Broadband expert hails 'economical solution' to delivering faster speeds

Thursday, November 5th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The new broadband technology being championed by BT is a cost-effective way of delivering fast internet speeds, an expert has said.

Lincoln Lavoie (pictured) said fibre broadband is a futureproof long-term solution but comes “at a huge cost”.

He said G.fast, which uses a combination of fibre cables and existing copper wires, is a “great solution” that can make the most of the UK’s current infrastructure.

G.fast is currently being trialled by BT customers in Gosforth, Newcastle, and Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, while technical trials are taking place at BT's laboratory in Swansea, south Wales.

Across the Atlantic, engineers at the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) are carrying out the last stage of trials and helping manufacturers prepare for the commercial launch of G.fast services.

Mr Lavoie, a senior engineer at UNH-IOL, said G.fast is “hugely fast” – capable of speeds up to 800Mbps over 100 metres – and doesn’t require fibre to be run all the way into a premises.

“A lot of operators are talking about single port units that go on the side of the house or at the telephone pole directly outside the house,” he told Cable.co.uk.

“They want to get that fibre as close to the premises as they can without having to drill a hole in your wall to bring the fibre into the house because people don’t like it when you dig up their gardens and drill holes in their walls.”

Speaking at Broadband World Forum in London, Mr Lavoie said fibre to the premises (FTTP) is a “futureproof long-term solution – at a huge cost”.

It may make sense to put fibre connections into new buildings, he said, but not necessarily in those that already have copper and would require a lot of work being done to install fibre.

'Cool services'

“It comes down to, 'where do you want to invest your money, how much money do you want to invest at any given time?'," he said.

“You want to even out the world that you’re deploying in, so if you can get the fibre close – and you can stop the fibre either just at the neighbourhood or just outside the house, whatever the architecture is you’ve decided on – that’s a very economical solution to then leverage that last little bit of copper.”

Mark Collins, director of strategy and public affairs at fibre broadband provider CityFibre, told Cable.co.uk that G.fast is a “compromise technology” that shouldn’t be seen as the answer to providing faster speeds on a national basis.

Mr Lavoie, who also serves on the board of directors for the Broadband Forum – an industry consortium dedicated to developing broadband network specifications – said no single technology will ever be the “perfect solution”.

“It’s hard to say, 'this is the compromise solution', versus, 'this is the final solution', versus, 'this is the solution that’s going to be there 20 years from now',” he said.

“Where we are today, it’s a great solution in my opinion to be filling that gap and giving me that 500Mbps, 800Mbps, gigabit service into the house now that I can start leveraging to get some of the cool services that are going to start coming out.”

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