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BT, Alcatel-Lucent reach 5Gbps over copper in XG.Fast lab trial

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A joint BT and Alcatel-Lucent experiment has achieved throughput speeds of 5Gbps in lab conditions as they explore the potential of a variation on G.fast broadband technology (XG.FAST). The technology also reached a speed of 1.8Gbps over a distance of 100 metres, in early experiments on this new networking type.

G.fast has been pioneered by BT’s R&D team and industry partners since 2007. By pushing the boundaries of data throughput on copper cable, BT says, it can deliver ultrafast broadband without the disruption and expense of laying fibre all the way to homes and businesses. This would enable BT Openreach to roll out ultrafast broadband quicker and more comprehensively, according to Mike Galvin, MD of Next Generation Access for BT’s Technology Service & Operations division. “These are exciting results. We know that G.fast will transform the UK’s broadband landscape but these results also give us confidence the technology has significant headroom should we need it in the future,” he said.

G.fast is the foundation of Openreach’s plan to deliver ultrafast speeds to 10 million premises by the end of 2020 and to most of the UK by the end of 2025. It is currently being tested in Huntingdon and Gosforth with trialists receiving up to 330Mbps of data downstream, ten times the current UK average.

If the trials are successful and the technology meets regulatory approval, Openreach aims to start using G.fast in 2016/17 alongside its fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises services. The company expects speeds to rise to up to 500Mbps as the technology is rolled out across the country.

The XG.FAST trials, held jointly in BT’s research and development campus in Suffolk and Alcatel-Lucent’s labs in Antwerp, are still at their early stages, according to BT. However aggregate speeds of 5.6Gbps over 35 metres of BT cable – and 1.8Gbps over 100 metres – are a significant record, it says. “G.fast is the answer if the UK is to have widespread and affordable ultrafast broadband sooner rather than later,” said Galvin.

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