Another gigabit upgrade coming to the NBN

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Another gigabit upgrade coming to the NBN

NBN Co is adding high-speed G.fast to its technology mix in 2018.

NBN Co’s range of technologies, known as Multi-Technology Mix (MTM), continues to expand – with the first FTTC (fibre to the curb) connection, for example, recently announced. The latest addition is G.fast, which is a newer and faster alternative to VDSL2 (very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line).

G.fast is designed to squeeze more speed out of the copper wires that connect individual premises served by FTTB (fibre to the building) or FTTC (fibre to the curb).

Where VDSL2 caps out at 100Mbps in each direction (300/100 for VDSL2-Vplus), G.fast is theoretically capable of up to 1Gbps. The technology is already being used in the UK to deliver services with speeds up to 330Mbps, and also in the US, Switzerland and Taiwan.

G.fast is not the first gigabit-capable NBN technology, but what makes it attractive to network operators such as NBN Co is that it allows higher speeds, yet still uses existing phone lines, simplifying installation as there is no need to enter customers' premises as occurs with FTTP (fibre to the premises) or HFC (hybrid fibre coaxial).

NBN Co trialled G.fast technology two years ago, achieving 600Mbps over 100 metres of 20-year-old copper cable. Further tests will be carried out before the technology is rolled out.

“Bringing G.fast technology to the NBN access network in 2018 again shows our commitment to being at the cutting edge of emerging technologies,” said NBN Co chief strategy officer JB Rousselot.

“Adding G.fast to the toolkit for the FTTC and FTTB networks will allow us to deliver ultra-fast services faster and more cost effectively than if we had to deliver them on a full Fibre-to-the-Premises connection.

“Our FTTP and HFC end-users already have the technology to support Gigabit services and adding G.fast over FTTC provides the upgrade path for our FTTN end users to ultimately receive Gigabit speeds too.”

Whether customers will actually receive speeds close to the nominal maximum is another matter, just as it is with the existing technologies.

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