BT announces ultrafast broadband trials and establishment of G.Fast test lab in the Welsh city
BT will test G.Fast technology in Swansea, providing 100 premises in the Welsh city with 500Mbps ‘ultrafast’ broadband that could eventually be rolled out to the majority of the UK within a decade.
The G.Fast standard uses existing copper cables to maintain speeds of up to 1Gbps as far as 400 metres from the cabinet, making it a far more cost effective technology to boost speeds than Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), which involves the laying of more fibre.
Two large scale trials will be held in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle later this summer and now Swansea has been added to this list. Specifically, BT wants to see how G.Fast can serve multi-dwelling units such as apartment blocks and business premises, as well as the economic impact on SMBs.
BT also plans to establish a new G.Fast test lab at the BT Tower in Swansea, providing academics, startups and other communications providers a place to trial G.Fast-based applications and technology.
“Wales is an excellent location to trial cutting-edge new broadband technologies,” said Mike Galvin, managing director of service, strategy and operations at BT. “This partnership further enables BT to deploy and validate the next generation of multi-media business and consumer communications capabilities.
“Our technical trial will allow us to evaluate the best way of delivering ultrafast speeds to flats and business premises nationwide.”
Local leaders have welcomed the news, claiming it will boost the local economy and create jobs.
“I am particularly pleased with the alignment this decision has with a new Computational Foundry being implemented at the University of Swansea,” added Sir Terry Matthews, chairman of the Swansea Bay City Region Board. “The combination creates a platform for the emergence of a new high-tech ecosystem in the Region, one that is sure to spawn a range of innovative new start-up companies, technologies, products and services.”
BT has so far achieved speeds of up to 800Mbps at its R&D centre at Adastral Park R&D centre in Suffolk and says it can reach 700Mbps on a 66 metre long cable – the same maximum distance from an exchange as 80 percent of properties connected to the Openreach network.
The company says it expects a commercial G.Fast network to initially offer speeds of ‘hundreds of megabits’ before edging up to 500Mbps as the technology becomes standardised and more advanced equipment becomes available. BT has also confirmed it is working on the creation of a ‘premium’ G.Fast service that could achieve the maximum theoretical speeds of 1Gbps.
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