The Stack Archive

British Telecom promises ‘ultrafast’ copper broadband – with fibre backbone

Fri 26 Sep 2014

In a new press release, British Telecom reveals that results from field trials demonstrate the practicability of achieving network speeds of 1000 mega bits per second over copper wire – ‘ultrafast’ speed.

However, it’s no quantum breakthrough in packet compression, but rather a scheme to run the final length of copper from a fibre-based hub at the nearest junction box or telephone pole to the premises. The traditional method of leveraging the superior throughput of fibre is to run cable all the way from the exchange into the end-user environment, which BT describes as ‘a relatively expensive, disruptive and time consuming process’.

The scheme is being labelled Fibre To The Distribution Point (FTTdp) ‘GFAST’ technology, and claims downstream speeds approximating 800Mbps and upstream speeds of 200mbps over 19 metres of copper.

The BT fibre infrastructure administrated by the company’s OpenReach program has reach to over 20mn UK premises, and currently uses Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), the former of which does not quite connect to the consumer.

FTTC can reach a maximum of 80mbps downstream, while FTTP achieves better results at considerably greater initial expense.

To pursue the new configuration – it is difficult to think of it as a new technology – BT will initiate further research on FTTdp at the Adastral Park research and development laboratory at Ipswich.

BT’s MD of Research and Innovation Dr Tim Whitley said: “We see G.FAST as a very promising technology with significant potential – that’s why we’re putting some of our best minds on the case to assess it fully in a purpose-built facility.”

There is some excited conversation about the prospect of businesses being able to abandon the bespoke construction of gigabit pipes, but from BT’s point of view any change to full-cost business connection tariffs and pricing would largely depend on the competitive map at the time of rollout. However the diffusion of the new method would certainly improve the prospect for ultrafast broadband connections in rural areas of the UK.


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