by Byron Connolly

NBN Co, Nokia in XG-FAST copper trial

Aug 31, 2016
Technology Industry

NBN Co and Nokia on Wednesday announced a trial of XG-FAST, the latest generation of broadband access technology operating over existing copper networks.

XG-FAST – a Nokia Bell Labs-developed extension of Nokia’s technology – provides multi-gigabit speeds over copper networks.

Previous XG-FAST lab trials using standard copper cable in Germany have demonstrated aggregate data transmission rates exceeding 8Gb/s over a 50 metre line length. A trial by BT in the UK delivered aggregate speeds of 5.6Gb/s over 35m2, Nokia said.

The Australian trial will use the latest full duplex (FDX) XG-FAST technology over a range of different copper cabling, including a standard two-pair copper cable typically used between streets and premises. Up to 500MHz of spectrum will be used to transmit data simultaneously upstream and downstream.

Nokia said it has conducted trials with more than 38 operators globally and has three commercial customers.

NBN Co’s CTO, Dennis Steiger, said XG-FAST cloud offer a much faster and cost-effective way to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to premises on the national broadband network “aside from trying to connect them all to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology.

“We already know from lived experience that trying to get a fibre connection into every single premise can be a complicated, time consuming experience – so we need to look for other solutions,” he said.

“Our primary goal is to continue with our current deployment of the FTTN/B network in order to get Australians on board the national broadband network as fast as possible. Once that is completed, we can then look at how we might push fibre deeper via FTTdP to deliver ultra-fast speeds via XG-FAST,” he said.

Internet Australia (IA) applauded efforts by NBN Co to trial new technologies. However, IA’s CEO, Laurie Patton said that before being deployed, any new technology must be guaranteed to deliver solutions able to provide speed and reliability – upload and download – comparable with fibre now and in the future. It must also provided a comparable return on investment, he said.

“Otherwise, we will still be building an inferior broadband service that won’t be fit-for-purpose in the long run. Our concern with the (multi-technology mix) MTM model has always been that it will not last the distance and will have to be replaced at great cost by a future government“, Patton said.

“What needs to be understood is that even if it is proven to work XG-FAST will not eliminate the need to replace the copper wires in the FTTN network in 10/15 years’ time. XG-FAST is only expected to work over very short distances. It requires fibre to be run to the edge of the premises / driveway (FTTdp)“.

IA maintains that NBN Co should abandon FTTN and return to building a 21st century broadband network capable of delivering the bidirectional gigabit-per-second speeds, he said.