BT RESEARCHERS say it is close to achieving ultrafast one gigabit per second (Gbps) internet without upgrading the existing copper wire telephone network running to most homes and businesses.
Although broadband is getting faster through the Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) approach, which uses new fibre-optic technology until the so-called "last mile" before travelling into the home via traditional copper wire, it had been assumed that the ageing infrastructure, much of which date back to the 1950s in rural areas, would create so much latency as to make superfast speeds impossible.
Now, researchers have created a new standard as a compromise between FTTC and fibre to the premises (FTTP) called G.FAST offering Fibre To The Distribution Point (FTTdp). In FTTdp fibre-optic is rolled out as far as the telephone pole or junction box, bringing it much nearer the premises.
In tests of G.FAST, researchers were able to achieve downstream speeds of around 800 megabits per second (Mbps) and upstream speeds topping 200Mbps, over ten times that presently offered by telecoms companies using the infrastructure managed by BT Openreach.
The repercussions, should the research continue to yield good results, could see cost reductions for businesses looking for superfast speeds without the need for a "gigabit pipe" that needs to be dug at significant cost. It could also see a fall in costs for rural residential users as the cost and complexity of fitting smaller exchanges for superfast broadband falls.
Dr Tim Whitley, MD of Research and Innovation at BT Group, said, "We see G.FAST as a very promising technology with significant potential - that's why we're putting some of our best minds on the case to assess it fully in a purpose-built facility.
"BT has a long history of pushing the boundaries in telecommunications, from the earliest days of the electric telegraph to today's global fibre networks, and it's crucial that we stay ahead of the curve for the benefit of our customers and shareholders."
The news comes as Virgin Media Business announced a new range of tariffs from its cable fibre network, which offers customers up to 152Mbps downstream through its own FTTC service.
The G.FAST standard is expected to be completed by December ensuring cross compatibility around the world. BT believes that soon after, the 1Gbps target could be crossed as the technique is further refined.
Rival Talktalk, which also uses the Openreach network, recently took legal action against BT, claiming that its broadband pricing was anti-competitive, however the allegations were rejected. µ
Hype for HyperThreading
Hey kids, leave them iPhones alone
The Mac lady sings
Babel in yo ear