BT Shows Off 10Gbps Broadband In Cornwall Trial

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

BT teamed up with ZTE to demonstrate a live trial of a 10Gbps broadband network down in Cornwall

BT offered up a tantalising glimpse into the possible future speeds of the UK’s broadband network, after it unveiled a “world first” live demonstration of a 10Gbps broadband network in action.

The demonstration took place on Thursday as part of a BT media tour of the Superfast Cornwall project, which is busy working to provide 80 percent of that isolated rural county with superfast broadband by 2014.

Fibre broadband to the premise

BT teamed with up ZTE UK for the 10Gbps demonstration, which took place in the offices of Arcol Resistors, a local Cornish business making a range of specialist resistors.

Until six months ago, Arcol had been firmly stuck in the broadband slow lane, with its 40 plus staff sharing a poor 1.5Mbps connection.

The Superfast Cornwall project brought much-needed fibre-to-the-premise broadband to the business park where it was located, and soon Arcol was wired to BT’s 330Mbps fibre broadband network.

“I previously considered anything to do with the cloud as something of a job,” admitted Arcol’s Alun Morgan. But he then explained how Arcol was able to introduce ERP systems and video conferencing, and other cloud-linked technologies to help grow his business. “It was such a huge step forward for us,” he told TechWeekEurope.

BT was keen to stress how it was seeking to future-proof its nationwide fibre deployment. Dr Ranulf Scarbrough, BT’s director of the Superfast Cornwall Programme, explained how the 10Gbps trial was future-proofing in action.

“The fibre pipe will stay the same, but the electronics at either end will change (in order to improve broadband line speeds in the future),” said Dr Scarbrough. “What we are showing you is a world-first customer trial of a 10Gbps connection, that allows us to explore the limits and see what is possible.”

Future Speeds?

The trial saw multiple big file downloads being shoved through the pipes, although even with those the tests couldn’t hit the full 10Gbps capacity. A standard called XGPON was used to transfer the data, which ran through ZTE kit and into Arcol’s own machines.

However, Arcol isn’t using the wider internet at the 10Gbps speeds, even though it can achieve them.

BT and ZTE were able to demonstrate the data carrying capacity and bandwidth speeds that a 10Gbps connection can offer, and did provide a valuable clue as to the possible speeds that can be achieved in the future on the fibre network that BT is currently building in two thirds of the UK.

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