G.fast Is Here! ‘Ultra Broadband for the Masses’

– Sckipio’s G.fast Chipsets Enable 1 Gbps over Telcos’ Existing Copper Phone Wires

Israeli startup Sckipio was founded specifically to develop and produce chips that adhere to a new ITU standard called G.fast, which allows telcos to offer fiber-like speeds of up to 1 Gbps over 250 meters of their existing copper telephone wires. It’s an FTTdp broadband technology, the “dp” being a “distribution point” in a neighborhood or MDU that connects up to 16 pairs of the copper phone wires that run to residences.

Sckipio this week said that its G.fast doors are open for business in an announcement about its G.fast chipsets at Broadband Taiwan during an Institute for Information Industry (III) Generation G meeting.

If it performs “as advertised,” G.fast’s speeds will keep telcos competitive with cablecos and other broadband service providers that are building all-fiber networks such as Google in the States and Hyperoptic in the UK. G.fast speed is not shared with other subscribers as is done by the cablecos’ DOCSIS broadband technology.

The speed is for two way use, so it might be 800 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up, depending on the telco’s or the consumer’s preference. But even 500 Mbps in either direction is much more than is currently needed for available applications such as multiple streams of UHD videos. Netflix says it needs 12-15 Mbps for its UHD streams. Others have said 32 Mbps is needed per UHD stream to ensure absolutely flicker-free videos of fast-action scenes such as sports.

Sckipio VP of marketing, Michael Weissman, called Sckipio’s implementation of G.fast “ultra broadband for the masses” and said it brings consumers “the full potential of the Internet to billions.” He said G.fast will accelerate the growth of the UHD TV market (but not as much, we think, as UHD sets that are priced for the mass market).

According to Weissman’s calculations, telcos will need G.fast or all-fiber to deliver multiple streams of UHD videos to the home. He said ideally, UHD streaming content needs 100% extra capacity (headroom) to guarantee a flicker-free video. He said a UHD stream requires about 20-25 Mbps per UHD stream. With 100% headroom, that comes to 40-50 Mbps of bandwidth. He said four streams will require a broadband service provider to have 160-200 Mbps of bandwidth. Telcos, he said, have only two choices: all-fiber or G.fast’s hybrid fiber/copper technology. He also said G.fast’s higher speeds will accommodate the increasing use of cloud-based services and other applications.

Sckipio surprised many broadband followers by announcing it is:

a) The first to ship G.fast chipsets — two of them, one for use in the neighborhood distribution points that are used connect fiber to the residences’ copper telephone wires, and another for use in equipment that goes in the subscriber’s home, typically a modem or gateway.

b) Offering what it calls the world’s fastest G.fast chips.

c) Publicly showing a G.fast reference board it has built as an example for equipment makers. It showed us pictures of the prototype board but would not let us have them for competitive reasons.

d) Announcing deals with four equipment makers that will produce products that are based on Sckipio’s G.fast chips: Suttle, XAVi [which also announced this week] and Zinwell will supply both distribution point units (DPU), which connect fiber to up to 16 pairs of telephone wires that go to residences, and consumer premises equipment (CPE). VTech will offer a DPU device, a residential gateway (which generally includes the modem and the Wi-Fi router) and a bridge device.

Sckipio thinks it may be as much as a year ahead of any other chipmaker at producing G.fast chips.

Sckipio co-founder and CEO David Baum said, “Sckipio is delivering on the full promise of G.fast. With Sckipio’s new G.fast chipsets, service providers won’t have to wait to get real G.fast with all the features and benefits that G.fast has to offer.”

Sckipio’s G.fast argument is two-fold: increased speeds, which telcos need to compete against cablecos as well as keep subscribers and regulators happy, and economical. It cites studies that show the cost of deploying fiber over the last 200 meters to the residence is $1,500 per home and months of delays but the cost of using G.fast instead of all fiber over the last 200 yards is $300 per home and only a few days.

Because G.fast uses existing telephone wire, modems and gateways can be shipped direct to subscribers for self-install. It eliminates drilling into walls, digging up yards and dealing with time-consuming in-home installations done by technicians.

Cost Comparison: All Fiber versus G.fast

 

Sckipio is careful to emphasize several points about its G.fast chips:
– Speed capacity of the chips is up to 1 Gbps, not the 500 Mbps Sckipio had previously told The Online Reporter would initially be the speed.
– The chips are not a re-spin of previous VDSL solutions.
– The DPU chips simultaneously supports four 1 Gbps G.fast ports and up to 10 Gbps of aggregated backhaul.
– The DPU chips have full built-in vectoring support for as many as 64 subscribers.
– The DPU uses electrical power from a subscriber’s modem (reverse power) so no electrical outlet is need at the distribution point.

Sckipio has produced reference designs of circuit boards for equipment makers to use when developing DPU and CPE devices. It has been working with both equipment makers and telcos to develop and test products and is already shipping engineering samples of the two G.fast chipsets.

There will be other G.fast chipmakers besides Sckipio. Broadcom, Huawei and Ikanos are said to be developing G.fast chips. Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent and Adtran are expected to make G.fast products for telcos. BT, Swisscom, Telekom Austria, and Deutsche Telekom are reportedly testing G.fast in their labs. BT has stated publicly that it is happy with the results so far, so happy that it has set up a special lab to test G.hn with help from the likes of Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and unnamed others.

 

In the States AT&T and CenturyLink, which have large copper wire networks and are feeling pressure from their cableco rivals, are prospects for G.fast but neither has made a public statement. Although Verizon has fibered up 70% of the homes in its footprint, the remaining 30% is a very large market. Its copper wire broadband subscribers are susceptible to being picked off by the local cableco, not only for broadband but also telephony. Verizon has told us repeatedly its future is FiOS and cellular but G.fast may prompt it to rethink its broadband strategy.

Sckipio the Company
Sckipio, which has raised $10 million from investors, is especially proud of the engineering team it has assembled: more than 30 people with over 200 years in combined telecom experience and whose work has resulted in 50 million devices being installed worldwide at over 80 telcos. Many of them came from CopperGate, the Israeli developer and producer of HPNA chips that was later acquired by Sigma Designs.

It’s also proud that its engineers have contributed 20% of the intellectual property that’s in the G.fast standard.

Sckipio is a member of the ITU and the Broadband Forum, as might be expected. It’s also a member of Celtic-Plus (see: http://celticplus.eu), European research initiative that…

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