In 2016, G.fast looked very promising.
Thousands worked at developing and deploying.
It wasn't enough.
Most carriers are investing
in fiber or 5G instead.
Dark Blue: 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 Blue: Smaller carriers in Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan
- Published: 08 May 2016 08 May 2016
Budget guys refuse to service the 4 million distribution points across the UK. BT's CIO, Peter Bell, publicly confirmed what the industry has speculated since last spring: BT is not planning fiber to the distribution point. G.fast was designed for distribution points, up to 16 homes very close to the DP. That was BT's plan until the budget people got involved. Now, because of budget limits, BT intends to reduce the number of locations serving G.fast by 94-97%.
Bell's comments imply that France Telecom and Telefonica are facing severe financial distress. Fiber all the way home costs more than FTTdp. Telefonica has reached 15M homes with direct fiber. France Telecom has reached 5M fiber homes passed already, including most of Paris. They plan >2M more homes each year until 2022. Neither analysts nor investors predict a financial calamity. ORAN and TEF have a market cap of $94B.
BT hopes most customers will get 300 megabits rather than the 500-800 G.fast was designed for. Some customers will be very disappointed when they discover "superfast broadband" is slow to their home.
At Light Reading's Gigabit Europe event, "Bell says the economics of that approach are untenable, with BT currently maintaining around 4 million distribution points across the UK. Instead the operator is looking to provide G.fast from many of its 90,000 street cabinets up and down the country."
Millions of homes are too far from the street cabinets to get decent data rates by today's standards. BT, like most telcos, would rather have 10% of customers angry rather than spend the money to give everyone decent service. Half of the homes in the country has no cable, so they have no choice but to pay BT what they ask.
BT could be in trouble in the half of the country they face Virgin Cable. Balin Nair is putting gigabit gear in place. They also are doing 1M fiber homes and several million more DOCSIS. BT is essentially betting people will not switch for faster speeds. That sounds risky to most tech enthusiasts but AT&T proved with U-Verse that speed wasn't everything.
Iain Morris of Light Reading and Ray Le Maistre has been doing consistently accurate reporting on G.fast. Morris was on target putting a question mark on his 2014 article, G.fast: The Dawn of Gigabit Copper? In 2016, production G.fast systems fall short of the gigabit.
If BT released to me or OFCOM the data behind Bell's comment, I'd bet we could show that the Openreach price increases more than cover the cost of 500 megabit+ service.
The picture is Liberty Global CTO Balan Nair, who is expanding Virgin's coverage rapidly. He know the telco side of the business as well; when I first met him he was CTO of Qwset.