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gfast map nov

Dark Green: Firm commitments from incumbent: BT (10M), Belgacom, Australian NBN, Swisscom,  Austria, Bezeq Israel, Chunghwa Taiwan, Telus Canada, Telekom South Africa, SK Korea, (U.S.) AT&T, Century, Frontier, Windstream, Belgium, Omantel

Mid Pink: Smaller carriers in Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan

Light Green: Incumbent likely:  France, Germany, Italy

Not a gigabit but pretty darn good. AT&T, assured the DirecTV merger is going through, is about to go public with the long-planned upgrade of ~5M U-Verse homes to hundreds of megabits. They will take four years and reach about 15% of their homes. Gigabit gear won't be available for several years.

Randall Stephenson in 2004 told Wall Street AT&T was using fiber, not copper, for all “new builds,” although I believe it took a few more years. “New builds” are 1-2% of the network each year. That suggests four million to eight million homes are ready with FTTB.

With most of the construction already done, the upgrade will easily fit in AT&T reduced capital budget. I estimate will cost $75-250 per home passed. The cost over four years is is only a few % of annual capex and will be recovered in months from customer charges. It would be stupid not to upgrade and AT&T's top management isn't stupid.  

The 400-700 megabit down speed of today's is confirmed by the early field trials. I previously reported that Swisscom, "Gets between 285 and 402 Mbps downstream and between 85 and 109 Mbps upstream. Results depend on copper cable length: on short copper cables (ca 24 meters) we were even able to reach 624 Mbps Downstream / 151 Mbps Upstream in field but without connected customers." Telekom Austria measured 536 megabits down and 116 up.

The chart below, from Alcatel, shows combined upstream and downstream speeds in early testing. Combined, the speeds up to 150 meters are 500-800 megabits. Subtracting 100 megabits for the upstream yields 400-700 megabits downstream, what I had estimated from a different data set.

Telcos in France, England, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and across the U.S. are scrambling to upgrade to counter the gigabit coming from cable. 

Separately, The “concession” of offering LTE “broadband lite” to 13M ? homes is more stage magic. AT&T has already built the LTE network for 97-98% of the U.S. and is already serving these areas. These are mostly rural or semi-rural homes where AT&T has unused capacity on the LTE network and isn't even using most of their spectrum. Some people think these are homes unserved by broadband. That's highly unlikely since there are only about 5M “unserved” homes in the U.S. Most of those 5M unserved are in the same extremely small pockets where LTE also isn't offered. 

From Alcatel, a rate reach diagram for 

Alcatel speed data


The Site for gfast 230 News

I’m still working through remarkable presentations from the Broadband Forum events. Michael Weissman, Bernd Hesse and team did a remarkable job choosing the speakers.

Deutsche Telecom: 35b Supervectoring Delayed to 2019
Broadcom is now over 3 years late. DT briefed German reporters after their financial call and revealed 35b was now delayed until 2019. 35b should deliver 200+ meg downloads 500-600 meters, a crucial tool for DT, which is losing share to cable. Cable now covers about 70% of Germany and is expanding. DT now only offers 50-100 megabit DSL while cable is often 400 megabits, going to a gigabit. 

The problem is software; the hardware is shipping and supposedly will work. DT says 35b is not ready to turn on. Broadcom in 2015 said 35b was in "production" in the press release below. Alcatel in early 2016 said to expect complete systems very soon. "35g is very similar to 17a so there should be little delay."

Broadcom's problems are leading major telcos and vendors to have a plan B, using Sckipio DT itself is planning extensive deployments in 2019, mostly in apartment buildings.

Gigabit 100 Meters - Unless the Wires are Lousy
Speeds are fine, "Unless there's a line problem." I've been reporting for three years that ~10% of lines have problems. In the chart by Rami Verbin of Sckipio, he finds goes ~130 meters on good lines. Poor lines have about half the reach. 

His chart roughly matches the reports from Swisscom, Belgacom, and England for both & vectored DSL. The 10% with problems can cause the majority of the line-related complaints to support. The angry customers drive up cost.

Rami's solution to reach the gigabit is bonding, supported on the Sckipio chips. Verbin made some additional points:

  • 4 gigabits is possible by bonding two decent 2 gigabit lines.
  • Even in a service from remote cabinets, ~25% are close enough to get a full gigabit."
  • cDTA and iDTA are practical ways to deliver much higher upstream by switching some bandwidth from downstream to upstream only when needed.
  • 35B will probably be similar but Deutsche Telecom doesn't expect to deploy until 2019.

AT&T Wants Coax 2-5 Gigabit Very Soon.
AT&T faces intense competition from cable, talking about 10 gigabits in both directions. (Cable will only be 1 gig down, ~100 meg up, until ~2021.) AT&T wants something to brag about as well.

AT&T gained millions of lines of coax as part of the DirecTV deal. Alcatel and Huawei are leading the development of G.mgfast. That uses 424 MHz, full duplex, to achieve ~2.5 gigabits in both directions. The reach on telco twisted pair is only about 30 meters. On coax, those speeds can probably extend far enough to service most apartment buildings. Using 848 MHz, speeds can reach 5 gigabits. The ITU standards group has been aiming for 2019-2020 for G.mgfast, too slow for AT&T's marketers. David Titus wants a high-speed standard for coax "early in 2018." He believes that is "doable."

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