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Ultrafast copper better for 30% who don't want a hole in their house

Thursday, October 23rd 2014 by Dean Reilly

Ultrafast copper is a better option than gigabit fibre, because of a 30% drop-off in potential uptake among consumers who would rather not have a hole drilled in their house, an expert has said.

Robin Mersh (pictured), chief executive of Broadband Forum told Cable.co.uk that the development, known as G.fast, could provide fibre-like speeds but without the disruption of fibre installation.

Speaking at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, he said: “G.Fast is very interesting, to all of the operators. Fibre-like speeds, easy installation like ADSL2 which basically meant no truck-roll, no engineer visit. You send the box, the consumer can plug it in themselves and they get fibre-like speed.

“That's the reason why they are so enthusiastic – and there's a lot of operators who are enthusiastic. If you say to an operator if you can deliver fibre like speeds with the ease of installation being much lower and therefore your costs much lower, are you interested? Hell yes, they’re interested.”

The BT G.fast tests have shown that broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps can be achieved using a mix of copper network and fibre optic cables. Mr Mersh, who has more than 18 years' experience working in the telecoms sector, explained that getting more out of the UK’s existing copper infrastructure offered real benefits for broadband users beyond simply faster internet access.

“The key point in G.fast is the fact that if you are using what's already in the ground and that is in the person's house, what's been wired already, and you're saying you can provide these speeds with less disruption, basically this will arrive in a box that you plug in, they're going to say yes.

“But if you're a fibre provider that's saying you can give a gig (1Gbps), but you’re going to tear up the garden and drill big holes in a wall: some consumers don't mind, some want the speed, but that's certainly not true for a lot of people.

“I’d say there’s a 30% attrition rate with people saying, ‘don't drill a hole in my house’. Now it's understandable that consumers don't want their place turned upside down, but you've got to find good solutions to this, and we think that the idea of not only getting more out of what you have in the ground, it's also more cost effective and it's giving the consumer the bandwidth they're looking for.

“So you look at that sort of situation and that to me is why it's such an important milestone.”

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