UK incumbent BT is trialling what it claims is the world’s first 10Gbps broadband connection using proof-of-concept technology called XGPON (Tens of Gibabits on a Passive Optical Network).
The trial means that an engineering firm in Cornwall, south England called Arcol UK, which until recently had been making do with a paltry 1.5Mbps connection now has access to the fastest broadband connection in the world.
The technology is a partnership between telecoms equipment vendor ZTE and Openreach, the infrastructure division of BT. The service expands on BT’s existing 330Mbps broadband on demand service, which according to Ranulf Scarbrough, Programme Director for the Cornwall SuperFast Broadband Programme is what makes the technology trial so interesting.
“What is exciting about this trial is that these hyper-fast speeds have been obtained over the exactly the same fibre that carries BT’s fibre broadband services today. All we are doing is changing the electronics at either end.
“This trial shows we are thinking and ready for the future even though there are no current plans to deploy this technology. A lot of this project is about future proofing – making sure that it’s not just the fastest speeds today but that we can continue to be at the cutting edge for five, ten, twenty years.”
According to BT, the 10Gbps connection between Acrol and the local Truro exchange pushes the limits of the physical networking and computer technology and offers more potential bandwidth that was used at the highest peak for the entire Olympics media network. The actual benefits are limited however, as the link to the wider internet does not run at anywhere near 10Gbps speeds.
“We are still only just discovering the sorts of things we can do with these speeds,” said Alun Morgan, technical director at Arcol. These include, “taking advantage of services like videoconferencing and using a cloud-based ERP system so we can access this information elsewhere… it has enabled us to be much more efficient and aggressive,” he said.
BT recently said that it expects its standard FTTC technology to be available to more than two-thirds of UK premises by spring 2014, 18 months ahead of its original schedule.