NBN Co plugs in first G.fast units across Australia

The next stage of the evolution of the nbn™ broadband access network is arriving with the deployment of our first G.fast-capable Distribution Point Units.

NBN Co has taken another step on our journey of delivering cutting-edge broadband technology to Australians with our first deployment of the G.fast copper-acceleration protocol standard onto our Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) technology.

G.fast is the next evolution of the copper-based technology pathway, following on from the very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL2) technology we are already deploying on our Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) technology.

By using higher-spectrum frequencies all the way up to 212 megahertz – compared to the (maximum) 17MHz used on VDSL2 – G.fast is able to deliver speeds all the way up to 1Gbps and beyond, albeit over short distances of around 100 metres.

That makes it a perfect fit for our FTTC technology where just 40 metres of copper links most homes to the Distribution Point Unit (DPU) and fibre-optic cable in the telecom pit outside serviced premises.

Implications of G.fast

To put it plainly, G.fast gives us the ability to deliver greater speeds to end users who are connected to the nbn™ broadband access network on our FTTC technology.

Although other global operators such as Openreach in the UK, SK Broadband in South Korea and Swisscom in Switzerland have already deployed G.fast, they have deployed the protocol standard from their existing Fibre-to-the-Node street cabinets.

By contrast, we are the first operator in the world to deliver G.fast to end users via in-ground DPUs. That is something we are very proud of, as are our vendors Nokia and ADTRAN.

Indeed, we are well aware that other operators around the world are watching our G.fast deployment and may pursue a similar pathway themselves; it is certainly amazing for us to be a pioneer in this space.

The realities of G.fast

To be clear, we have no immediate plans to launch G.fast-driven ultra-fast services into the marketplace: these trial DPUs will continue to operate in VDSL2 mode for the immediate future.

At present, current residential demand is being met by our 50Mbps and 100Mbps plans, with over half of all nbn™ access network end users now on these higher-speed plans.

However, putting G.fast capability in the ground now is a future-proofing step. Down the track, all we need do is enable the protocol standard remotely and issue relevant end users with a new G.fast-capable modem. These premises will then have access to the ultra-fast speeds that G.fast can deliver.

It makes economic sense for NBN Co to hold off providing G.fast services until there are sufficient market signals from phone and internet providers for us to proceed. After all, there is no sense in us offering ultra-fast G.fast wholesale services until end user demand is there to buy them.

NBN Co is aware that we not only need to deliver better wholesale broadband network to Australians as fast as possible – and we will complete the nbn™ access network build by June 2020 – we also need to have an eye on supporting future bandwidth needs. Deploying G.fast on our FTTC technology fits that need perfectly.