First north east customer connected in trial of 'g.fast' ultrafast broadband

The first person in the North of England to trial a new type of ultrafast broadband technology from BT has been connected.

The first person in the North of England to trial a new type of ultrafast broadband technology from BT has been connected.

The trial, which is being delivered by Openreach, BT’s local network business, in the Gosforth area of Newcastle, was announced earlier this year and is one of two customer trials taking place in the UK.

Triallist Margaret Broughton, was connected to the cutting edge technology just over a week ago, and has already noticed a marked difference in her broadband service.

The retired payroll officer said: “I already had superfast broadband but I am still surprised by how much faster this is – even after just a week of using it.

“The other day I downloaded an hour long TV programme in High Definition and it was ready to watch straight away. There was no waiting at all.

“At the moment my daughter and grandchild are staying with us so there can often be as many as five devices like laptops and smartphones all downloading or streaming something on the internet at the same time. Despite this everything is instantaneous whatever we are doing online – it really is ultra fast.”

Two thousand homes and businesses will be covered by the trial in the coming weeks. It is already delivering speeds of up to 330 megabits per second (Mb/s) - more than ten times the current UK average - using G.fast, a new technology that has been pioneered by BT's research and development (R&D) division.

G.fast changes the way today’s broadband is transmitted, delivering ultrafast speeds that have previously required fibre to be run all the way to the premises (FTTP). This is significant as it will enable Openreach to make ultrafast fibre available to a much larger number of homes and businesses, and in a shorter timeframe, than if it had focused on FTTP alone.

The trial is open to all communications companies on equal terms. That means people trying out the new technology will have a choice of service provider.

Welcoming the news Bob Paton, CEO of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The news that Gosforth was chosen to trial this cutting edge technology was very welcome and it’s fantastic that local people are now beginning to reap the benefits. This technology will undoubtedly benefit our region and it’s great that the North East is playing such a key role in what will be a UK-wide roll-out of ultrafast broadband.”

If trials* like the one in Gosforth prove successful - and if UK regulation continues to encourage investment - Openreach aims to start deploying G.fast in 2016/17 alongside its existing fibre broadband services.

The company believes that G.fast will enable it to make speeds of 300 - 500 Mb/s available to 10 million premises by 2020 and to most of the UK within a decade as the technology is developed further.

Joe Garner, CEO Openreach, said:“As we explained in our recently launched Charter, we are determined to continue to improve the UK’s leading position on broadband. That’s why we are very excited to have begun the second G.Fast trial which is another step in building Britain’s connected future.”

The trial in Gosforth will run for around nine months, allowing Openreach, and its growing base of currently eight communications company triallists, as well as BT’s R&D division, to assess the technical performance of the technology across a large footprint.

Various methods of deployment will be used to provide a valuable insight into how the technology can be used on a day-to-day basis, including how usage might grow over time.

The speeds on offer will allow people to stream live ultra-high-definition 4K video content to multiple devices at once, all whilst simultaneously browsing the web, uploading videos and photos, or playing online games.

BT has pioneered research into G.fast technology since 2007 and has been heavily involved in driving the creation of global industry standards in that time. It is working on the trials with international vendors ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent andHuawei, and also with chipset manufacturers and global standards bodies, to drive the speed and performance of G.fast technology.

BT will be demonstrating the performance of this pioneering ultrafast broadband technology at the forthcoming Broadband World Forum event at ExCel London from 20th – 22nd October. For more information, visit www.broadbandworldforum.com.”

*Openreach is supporting another customer trial in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and a technical trial will be taking place in Swansea, South Wales.