Dubbed G.fast broadband technology, it will provide “most homes” with speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps and there’s also a “premium” option for up to 1000Mbps.
At present most of BT’s national deployment is dominated by its hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to your local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining / existing copper line from the cabinet to your home.
This works for properties that exist up to 400 metres away from their street cabinet, although the service has been known to reach 2,000 metres at a slower speed.
G.fast is similar technology but it requires more radio spectrum and needs to run over much less than 250 metres of copper. As a result the high capacity fibre optic line has to be taken even closer to homes, usually as far as a smaller remote node that can be built on top of a telegraph pole, inside a street cabinet or underground.
This is expensive, although BT should not need to dig up your garden or run a new physical line into homes.
BT conducted a field trial of mock-up G.fast technology earlier this year and on the shortest 19 metre copper line it managed to achieve aggregated speeds of around 1000Mbps or 231Mbps upload and 786Mbps download. By comparison the “long” 66 metre line produced 200Mbps upload and 696Mbps download.
There will be two pilots which will start this summer in Huntingdon and Gosforth with 4,000 homes and businesses participating to see if the technology scales up.
BT will set up G.fast from different points of its network, with the pilots allowing it to assess various rollout options. It is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband, of up to 1Gbps.