Australia’s NBN Is Third Major Telco to Trial Nokia’s XG-FAST Copperwire Broadband

– Hopes for 5 Gbps to 8 Gbps over Existing Copper Phone Wires

– 2018 Is Deployment Target Date

G.fast is now and XG-FAST will come in 2018 appears to be Nokia’s FTTdp broadband strategy, at least until telcos decide to undertake the rather expensive and time consuming building of all-fiber networks.

Australia will be the third country to trial Nokia’s XG-FAST broadband technology, according to NBN, which is building Australia’s national broadband network and Nokia, which makes XG-FAST equipment. Their goal is to achieve aggregate speeds of between 5 Gbps and 8 Gbps.

NBN CTO Dennis Steiger said, “XG-FAST could offer us a much faster and cost-effective way to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to the premises on our network, aside from trying to connect them all to fiber-to-the-premises technology. We already know from lived experience that trying to get a fiber connection into every single premise can be a complicated, time-consuming experience, so we need to look for other solutions. Our primary goal is to continue with our current deployment of FttN/Fttb network in order to get Australians on board the NBN network as fast as possible, but once that is completed we can then look at how we might push fiber deeper via FttDP in order to deliver ultra-fast speeds via XG-FAST.”

XG-FAST is an advanced form of the industry standard broadband technology G.fast that can be used over the “last mile” of copperwires that connects homes to a nearby fiber network. XG-FAST requires that fiber be installed closer to the home than G.fast. XG-FAST is classified as various architectures such as fiber-to-the-node (FTTn), fiber-to-the-basement (FTTb) such as when used in MDUs and fiber-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp). Like G.fast, it uses a distribution point, a box or a protected cabinet, that connects the fiber from the central office to the existing copperwires that connect to residences.

Nokia’s recently acquired Alcatel-Lucent makes the distribution points and the gateways that go in the home. Because XG-FAST and G.fast use the existing copperwires, a technician is not needed to go into the home – it’s plug and play. Ship the subscriber a new gateway that can replace the existing gateway/modem/router.

NBN and Nokia will trial XG-FAST in labs. They will use full-duplex XG-FAST technology over Australia’s standard two-pair copperwire and up to 500MHz of spectrum will be used to simultaneously transmit data up and down.

It is not clear who is making the XG-FAST chips that will be in the distribution points. Generally known as a Broadcom shop, Nokia has in the past used its own programmable chips in the early stages of developing a technology such as it did with G.fast.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow said, “This is about making sure we provide a minimum performance level today with an upgrade path. This is vitally important. We’re constantly looking at new things that we can deploy that will give either a lower cost, faster time to get everybody connected or better speeds. And that’s where we think about FttDP. We know that when we think about that technology, we think about G.fast as the technology that will go over the top of that to give us some pretty fast speeds, and most recently we’ve been testing XG-FAST that actually takes that out to a whole new level of multiple gigabits per second capability.”

NBN is trialling FttDP in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s considering launching FttDP-based broadband in 2018 at about 500,000 residences and possibly later expanding the coverage. The current field trials do not use XG-FAST broadband technology.

The UK’s BT and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT) are already trailing XG-FAST:

– BT reached speeds of 5.8 Gbps over 35 meters of copperwires.

– DT reached 8 Gbps speeds over 50 meters of copperwires.

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Feature image courtesy Nokia.

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