BroadbandCarriersInnovationNetworksProjectsResearchService Providers

Swisscom Claims European First With G.Fast Launch

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Swiss telco launches ultrafast broadband capable of 500Mbps that includes the use of humble copper lines

Swisscom is claiming to be the first European country to launch a commercial ultra-fast broadband service for its citizens using a combination of fibre and traditional copper lines.

The technology in question is called G.Fast, and it is worth noting that BT is already trailing the technology at the moment.

Fast Copper

BT last year achieved speeds of 5Gbps using a copper connection in early lab trials of G.Fast, and claimed the tests show the technology is futureproof against future customer demands.

The former British incumbent has already promised to deliver G.Fast to ten million homes and businesses by the end of 2020 and to the ‘majority’ of the UK by 2025.

But its European counterpart, Swisscom announced earlier this week that it has launched a commercial service after a “four year project phase,” and it already has 1,000 customers.

It has teamed up with Huawei in testing the service and has now started to apply it “across Switzerland as part of the regular Fibre to the Street (FTTS) expansion.” This FTTS solution should cover two thirds of the Swiss population (nearly 3.4 million households).

Switzerland topThe Swiss carrier said that G-fast will allow it deliver high transmission speeds to up to 500 Mbps. This is possible “through the use of a higher frequency spectrum on copper cables.”

“Swisscom had already successfully provided the first pilot customers worldwide with the final standard of G.fast and thereby gathered key insights for its further development in spring 2015,” said the Swiss telco. “Since September 2016, only G.fast-compatible 16-port hardware has been used for the Switzerland-wide FTTS expansion. With FTTS, fibre-optic cables are laid up to a distance of around 200 metres from the building.”

“We then use the existing copper cable infrastructure for the remaining distance,” said Swisscom, and it promised to go further by deploying to the premise as well.

“In 2017, the transmission standard will also be integrated into 48-port hardware as well as into the Fibre to the Building (FTTB) expansion,” it said.

UK Coverage

It is worth noting that currently only around 22 percent of Switzerland’s population can access gigabit-speed connections.

In the UK on the other (according to Thinkbroadband.com), an impressive 91 percent of homes and businesses can access a “superfast” connection with speeds faster than 30Mbps.

BT (and the Government) of course have spend billions in rolling out fibre in the UK over the past five years to achieve that, but the UK carrier has been criticised for using fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) for the majority of its superfast broadband rollout.

BT however has always maintained that FTTC is more appropriate, cost effective and quicker to deploy than FTTP at the present time.

Earlier this week Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture called for companies such as BT to deliver a fully fibre network for the UK, replacing the “last mile” copper connection from the street cabinet into people’s homes with a fibre connection.

What do you know about fibre broadband? Try our quiz!