Telcos soon could have 1 Gbps Internet with G.fast; huge boon for Internet TV

By Jim O'Neill on Dec 12 2013 at 8:00 AM

Telcos trying to play catch-up with cable operators have been hamstrung by the physics of their own delivery system of choice: copper wire.

The bandwidth limitations of paired copper into homes often has left telephone operators who rely on DSL infrastructure offering “me-too” video products. Worse, from a competitive standpoint, has been their top-tier Internet speeds of 12 Mbps (or less), in a world where 30 Mbps – and better – rapidly is becoming table stakes for cable operators. In fact, cablecos around the globe are showcasing Internet tiers with speeds of 100 Mbps and more. And, of course, there’s also Google Fiber’s 1 Gbps speed to contend with.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for telcos, a new standard that this week received first-stage approval from the International Telecommunications Union, starting the ball rolling on technology that could deliver Google Fiber-like 1 Gbps Internet across those oft-maligned copper networks.

G.fast can achieve speeds up to 1 Gbps over existing telephone wires. The catch? It works only within about 275 yards of a distribution point. Operators still will see a significant capital outlay for building out a Fiber to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) network, but it will be less expensive – and less complicated – that a complete Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network.

Still, once G.fast begins to roll out – final approval of the standard could come as soon as April – telcos will have a big opportunity to expand their IPTV and over-the-top offerings to better compete with cable, and give service providers more opportunities to monetize online video.

An additional benefit of the huge bump in bandwidth will be telcos’ ability to compete head-to-head with cable in the rapidly developing arena of Ultra-HD ‘4K’ or ‘8K’ streaming.

Multichannel News said startup Sckipio estimates the FTTdp architecture will be far cheaper than FTTH, costing about $300 per home compared to $1,500.

TeleGeography, meanwhile, has said Alcatel-Lucent and A1 Telekom Austria conducted a G.fast trial that saw speeds of 1.3 Gbps over 70 meters, and said 500Mbps over a 100-meter last mile copper connection were common.

The ITU said the G.fast project is being coordinated with the Broadband Forum’s FTTdp system architecture project, and has attracted active participation from a range of service providers, chip manufacturers, and system vendors, who have confirmed the standard’s peak gigabit-per-second capability through lab and field trials.

Cable’s DOCES 3.0, of course, is capable for delivering up to 1 Gbps, and DOCES 3.1 is targeting multi-Gbps speeds.

Just imagine what that means for Internet TV. Wow.

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