If you missed last week’s Broadband World Forum event in London, there is one technology that stole the show: G.fast. No matter where you turned, what news you read or which conversation you had, BBWF 2015 was all about G.fast. There were real products, real customer performance stories and numerous operators demonstrating the real services that they plan to deliver thanks to this game changing technology.
Industry enthusiasm was tangible, which was refreshing to see. Many conversations in recent years have centered around the ‘ifs’ associated with G.fast, as in if a service provider could find it feasible to deploy services, if a business case could be built to justify G.fast, and only then if the results of their G.fast trials or lab tests verified the early performance claims. Last week, the focus shifted to when service providers will deploy, and what types of services they envisage delivering over G.fast technology.
In some ways, I felt a bit like a parent watching their first child go off to school. Back at BBWF in 2010, ADTRAN introduced the industry to the early concepts of fibre-to-the-distribution point, including reverse powered low density sealed micro nodes. At the time, these innovations were met with some scepticism but, today, they have evolved and developed into the foundations upon which the G.fast industry now stands. Fast-forward five years, and I was able to see the fruition of these efforts as I walked the show floor and saw how G.fast has not only become a reality, but is rapidly gaining traction in more and more markets.
While the industry has clearly settled on the idea that G.fast is here to stay, BBWF offered several other interesting themes projecting the evolution of advanced broadband technology.
There were several questions about Europe’s status in the global Gigabit arena. Fibre has been driving that trend in North America, and ADTRAN continues to see tremendous success with its Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives programme highlighting more than 200 US communities that now have access to Gigabit services via FTTH. In Europe, the drive to Gigabit broadband is beginning and, while lagging behind the US and APAC markets, is likely to gain ground quickly thanks to the capabilities brought with G.fast. Hot on the heels of G.fast acceptance were strong expressions of interest in bonded copper as a means to deliver Gigabit-level services.
Another area we’re paying close attention to is G.fast’s shift from FTTdp to FTTCab implementations. Through 50+ customer trials of G.fast, we’ve seen some tremendous results using ADTRAN technology innovations that have significantly exceeded performance expectations, particularly on longer loops. At the same time, while today’s G.fast solutions are about leveraging existing assets to deliver next generation services, service providers have articulated the need for them to operate within emerging SDN architectures. Deploying a cloud-optimised G.fast solution supporting modern, open interfaces provides operators the benefit of vendor-neutral control and ensures their broadband customers benefit from the rapid delivery of best network and subscriber applications available. These are only some of the exciting developments emerging in this space, so stay tuned to see what comes next.
Commercial deployments are in the early stages with most slated to begin in 2016, so what we witnessed last week is still just the beginning. Given the fact G.fast allows service providers to deliver higher speed services at a greater speed and scale, while maximising their existing infrastructure investment, I suspect the best is yet to come. I can’t wait to see what BBWF 2016 brings.
Ronan Kelly is ADTRAN Chief Technology Officer for the EMEA and APAC regions