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BT connects first homes in G.fast ultrafast broadband trial

Tuesday, August 25th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The first people to trial a new type of ultrafast broadband from BT have been connected, the company has announced.

Residents in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, are taking part in BT’s field trial of G.fast – a combination of fibre and conventional copper wires – which can deliver ultrafast speeds that usually need fibre all the way into a premises.

G.fast is already delivering speeds up to 330Mbps – more than 10 times the UK average – and it is expected that 2,000 homes and businesses wll be covered by the trial in the coming weeks.

It is hoped that, if successful, BT Openreach will be able to make ultrafast broadband available to a larger number of premises in a shorter timeframe than if it only focused on fibre to the premises (FTTP).

The speeds that G.fast can achieve will allow people to stream live ultra-high-definition 4K video content to multiple devices at once, while web browsing, uploading videos and photos, or playing online games at the same time.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: "The UK already leads Europe when it comes to superfast broadband coverage and speeds, with around 40,000 more homes and businesses getting access every week thanks to the government rollout.

“We want to stay ahead of the competition and so it’s good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry.

“BT is harnessing its world-class technology and engineering expertise to help the UK lead the way on ultrafast broadband and remain a world leading digital economy."

The trial will run for six to nine months, allowing Openreach and its eight communications provider trialists, as well as BT’s research and development (R&D) division, to assess the performance of the technology.

Experts will study how the technology can be used on a day-to-day basis, including how usage might grow over time.

'Pioneering'

BT believes that G.fast will enable it to make speeds of a few hundred megabits per second available to millions of homes by 2020 and deliver up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade as the technology is developed further.

Further trials are set to take place in Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Swansea, Wales, from September.

BT said that if the trials prove successful Openreach aims to start deploying G.fast in 2016/17 alongside its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and FTTP services.

Joe Garner, CEO of BT Openreach, said: “Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future.

“This is the largest trial of G.fast technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams.

“We conducted the world’s first G.fast trial in 2013, and our experts have been heavily involved in creating global industry standards for this technology.

“We're now eager to support all our service providers in learning how customers enjoy the service.

“The people of Huntingdon will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of the UK over the coming years.”

The trial, which is being delivered by Openreach, is open to all communications providers on equal terms so people will have a choice of service provider.

BT is working on the trials with international vendors ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei, and also with chipset manufacturers and global standards bodies.

Cable.co.uk has previously reported how gigabit broadband providers criticised the move towards G.fast as an attempt to maximise the old network without investing in essential upgrades to fibre optic technology.

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