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BT commissioned report says G.fast will be a big deal – funny that

The unveiling of Openreach, a new multi-billion pound business r

New research from Ovum, commissioned by BT, has predicted G.fast technology will be serving 30 million subscriber homes and businesses around the world by 2021.

Although mostly concentrated in Western Europe, the technology is also catching internationally, with Chunghwa in fact announcing the first deployment of G.fast on a commercial basis last year. Within five years, the Ovum team anticipate 11% of broadband services will be delivered through G.fast. BT Openreach, M-net, Swiscom, NetCologne and Telekom Austria have already announced rollout strategies for the technology, with various others including Elisa, Homenet and Hrvatski Telekom conducting field trials.

“G.fast is a progressive and logical step for any network operator looking to deliver ultrafast speeds through incremental enhancements to existing infrastructure,” said Matthew Howett of Ovum. “It allows them to radically improve the available speeds for large numbers of subscribers in a much shorter timeframe than other fibre based solutions.”

Ovum has forecasted strong pick-up in the European markets owing to legacy network, increased competition, as well as regulatory and government targets. The European Commission broadband targets currently include 50% of households having subscriptions of 100Mbps or higher, which is nice considering it’s not their money to spend. Other markets are not anticipated to have the same level of G.fast pick-up, with Ovum predicting only 3% of broadband services migrating to the platform.

The report itself has been partly commissioned by BT Openreach, which may come as little surprise considering the company is one of the more vocal supporters of G.fast technology in the UK. It may, or may not, shock you that the technology is portrayed in a positive light in the report.

Specifically within the UK, BT has been under pressure from various flanks including the continued rollout of Virgin Media’s fibre network. While the company was born out of a monopoly in the telecoms sector, BT now has to be nice to its customers to retain business, ultimately meaning it has to do those pesky upgrades to ensure internet speeds are high-enough for customers to watch the football and the Kardashians, update Facebook and Twitter, check the BBC, download Dude Where’s my Car, and browse Amazon simultaneously.

Alongside those pesky consumers, UK government has extended its target for the availability of superfast broadband (at least 24 Mbps) from 95% of premises in 2017 to 97% in 2019. BT Openreach’s fibre-to-the-cabinet is underway, though to meet its ambition to offer Ultrafast broadband to 12 million premises by 2020, there is still substantial amounts of work to be done. BT has also stated 10 million of these premises serviced via G.fast.

“We have pioneered G.fast in our labs, driven the global standards, and have been working closely with our communications provider customers on the trials, so we’re very excited that it’s time to start rolling this technology out nationwide,” said Clive Selley, Openreach CEO. “The great thing about G.fast is that allows us to deliver affordable ultrafast speeds to customers quickly and at scale.”

With Virgin Media committing to $3 billion investment in its own fibre network, BT will have to deliver on the promise of flawless service to remain in the Champions League spots. Despite the fact it commissioned the report, it’s nice for BT Openreach to get some support for one of its initiatives as it has been the centre of taunts from its rivals in recent weeks, most notably the whiny Fix Britain’s Internet campaign.

BT likes G.fast as a way of providing ‘fibre-like’ speeds over copper, hence allowing BT to further sweat its existing copper assets which it takes its own sweet time about rolling out fibre, as discussed by Light Reading here. For exactly that reason BT opponents and those reliant on its fixed infrastructure via Openreach are not fans of G.fast as they think it gives BT an excuse not to get its fibre act together. Hence the report.

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