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Learn Why 2019 Will Be the Year of G.fast —

As the digital appetite for gigabits grows and grows, delivering ultrafast broadband to end users is at the top of every service provider’s agenda. Addressing the Last Mile — that all important section of the network that reaches the premises — is key to achieving high speeds and the extra capacity needed to give consumers the bandwidth they crave to satisfy the need for more, more, more.

One solution enabling the industry to deliver on this is G.fast, the gigabit broadband access technology that brings ultrafast broadband to locations where it can be impractical to economically deliver fiber. This creates a viable option to bring the digital community and high-speed networking to new locations around the world that cannot be reached by other access methods, such as fiber, due to geographical terrain or low economic viability.

Building on the best aspects of ADSL and VDSL, G.fast promises to cost-effectively deliver bandwidth-intensive consumer applications, such as cloud-based consumer applications and 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) to homes and premises across the world. G.fast is also designed to help operators meet broadband targets by expanding the footprint of existing fiber networks. This eliminates the need for new construction work in and to the premises, which ultimately drives down the total cost for the operator.

And, unlike with ADSL where the industry struggled with proprietary products during the initial phase of roll out, these opportunities are rolling round fast, thanks, in part, to important work around G.fast standardization.

The Standardization Story
Working in accordance with the ITU, which set the first standard for G.fast in 2014, the Broadband Forum has been driving this work.

Its G.fast Council was formed to organize and disseminate the expertise and experience of the G.fast market to facilitate the rapid deployment of the innovative access technology. Bringing together industry experts from operators, chip makers, and equipment manufacturers, the council is key in demonstrating to the world how G.fast fits into the bigger gigabit broadband picture. What is more, a rigorous testing and certification program run by the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL) was launched last year, and has quickly made an impact with 12 companies now offering certified products.

Testing is conducted according to the Forum’s 1R-337 certification test specification and OD-362 program guidelines of stability, functionality, and control. Operators also identify the critical components to their networks including performance of the systems, stability, and specific feature sets. Basic performance, each system’s ability to operate in noise environments and implement mitigation features is also looked at, while spectrum control is verified to conform to regional regulatory requirements and other requirements. The Forum also hosts regular Plugfests, with the next sessions due to take place in August and November 2018.

More recently, the Physical Layer Transmission group’s work on issue 2 of the G.fast certification to address G.fast over coax has seriously boosted progress, increasing performance requirements in the long run. Several documents have also passed the group’s final ballot, including TR-400 which explores G.fast bonding. This is particularly significant to the future of G.fast, as it allows service providers to validate G.fast bonding performance to push higher speeds over long distances. Work on SD-415, or MG.fast, has also been launched with the addition of initial service provider requirements.

The Rise of Hybrid Networks
As a result of this early standardization work, operators’ confidence around the technology has grown and the time-to-market has accelerated, with G.fast moving quickly from initial conception just 3 years ago, to field trials and now to wide-scale deployments.

In fact, at the current rate of development, G.fast mass deployment will be arriving sooner than we think — but it is not only due to the progress being made on standardization.

Deploying a Hybrid Access Network is a prominent project being pursued by the Forum, going beyond the Last Mile to address the last few meters of the copper section and deploying fiber deeper than ever. Hybrid access offers converged carriers the opportunity to leverage both wireless and wireline assets to provide high bandwidth services and increased reliability. It also opens up additional options as to how they serve their customers in challenging locations.

Using Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON), fiber can be fast and affordable — particularly when built correctly with management in mind. Signal loss and strain can also be monitored through remote physical layer monitoring. Marrying it with G.fast, which costs less than full FTTH, by leveraging that all important existing physical infrastructure and services a range of premises including Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs), with FTTH to create the future access network pushes fiber within a few meters of the end user for improved speeds, performance, and easy management of the network.

Looking to the Future
It is clear that G.fast has an important role to play in our future networks, then, so what’s next for the technology? At the Forum, we are currently discussing a possible next phase of the G.fast specification which includes using multipair bonded G.fast itself as the backhaul for G.fast customer connections. Work on a second edition of a performance monitoring specification has also been given the green light. All those components, along with test, certification, and development of standardization, work together to boost the deployment of G.fast at its maximum potential — and ensure that 2019 will be the year of G.fast.

With many of our members playing an active role in supporting the development of G.fast, the ongoing work will ensure that when the time comes for mass deployment, operators can be confident that G.fast technology is universally accepted, and capable of reaching its full potential to address the challenges currently facing the industry. Standardization and interoperability are at the heart of that promise, and operators can sleep easy knowing that they won’t see the same problems proprietary solutions caused during the roll out of ADSL.

A range of manufacturers have had their products G.fast certified, and the list is only growing. This growth is an encouraging indicator that the unlimited opportunities that lie ahead in an ultrafast broadband world will be taken, and in a way that equally benefits the industry, customers, and emerging new markets, that demand bandwidth.

Now that the last few meters are in sight, and the promise of high speeds and more capacity are within reach, collaboration across the industry on this important work around G.fast is more crucial than ever. Soon, 2019 will be on the horizon, and with continued interoperability, so will a standardized G.fast that is capable of anything.

 

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About Author

Robin Mersh is CEO of the Broadband Forum. He joined the Broadband Forum as COO in July 2006, and was promoted to CEO in July 2010. He has authored multiple articles and has spoken at and chaired many broadband industry events. Robin has worked in the telecommunications industry for more than 18 years, and has worked in business development and alliance management for various OSS software companies in the US. For more information, please visit https://www.broadband-forum.org/. Follow the Broadband Forum on Twitter: @Broadband_Forum.

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